The Case for Disclosure of Biologics Manufacturing Information
47 J.L. Med. & Ethics 54 (2019)
36 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2020 Last revised: 3 Nov 2020
Ten years after the enactment of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA), competition in biologics markets remains scant and far from sufficient for lowering prices of biologics to the level of 80-90% price drops seen in generic drug markets. This reality is not a result of one or two cardinal reasons, but many. If lowering the price of biologics is the goal and competition is the means by which we seek to achieve that goal, then there does not seem to be a quick fix to address all of the many impediments to competition that plague biologics markets. Yet, certain changes to how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluates and approves biologics may go a long way toward the creation of meaningful competition in biologics markets. One such change would be making original biologics' manufacturing information available to follow-on manufacturers.
As recognized by several commentators, access to biologics manufacturing information is key to increasing competition in biologics markets. Without access to such information, making follow-on biologics is difficult and expensive, if not outright impossible. This is expected to be especially true for the highly anticipated class of interchangeable biologics, none of which has been approved by the FDA to date. Yet, it has long been the position of the brand-name pharmaceutical industry (Industry) that biologics manufacturing information is proprietary and, thus, may not be shared. Congress has subscribed to the Industry's position, prohibiting the FDA from disclosing regulatory filings submitted by developers of original biologics, including manufacturing information, to third parties. That prohibition not only undermines competition in biologics markets, but is also wasteful, potentially unethical, and poses unnecessary risks to the health and safety of patients.
This article makes the case for FDA sharing of original biologics manufacturing information with follow-on biologics developers. It is informed by the similar legal and commercial circumstances in the area of pesticides and the regulatory regime established by Congress in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The article reviews the FIFRA regime, including its upholding as constitutional by the United States Supreme Court, and then examines its applicability to the area of biologics. The article concludes with a proposal for a similar regime to be incorporated into the pathway for approval of follow-on biologics as a means of increasing competition in biologics markets.
Keywords: Pharmaceuticals, biologics, exclusivity, patents, trade secrets, manufacturing information, data, access to medicine, Food and Drug Administration, FDA, biosimilars, interchangeable biosimilars, Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, BPCIA, BPCI Act, competition, innovation
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