The monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin®), which targets the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), is approved for the treatment of early breast and advanced breast and gastric cancer in which HER2 is overexpressed. Several biosimilar versions of trastuzumab are expected to enter the European market over the course of 2018 and 2019. The biosimilar development pathway consists of a comprehensive comparability exercise between the biosimilar candidate and the reference product, primarily focussing on data from analytical studies. Clinical studies for biosimilar candidates follow a different design to those for a new biological, as the aim is not to independently establish clinical benefit, but to confirm biosimilarity between the two agents. The different trastuzumab biosimilar candidates have followed diverse pathways in their clinical development, with differences in clinical trial design (equivalence or non-inferiority design), patient population (those with metastatic or early breast cancer) and endpoint (overall response rate or pathological complete response). These differences in approach in phase 3 testing must be viewed in the totality of evidence demonstrating biosimilarity. Adequate information on the biosimilar approval pathway, the nature of the biosimilarity exercise and how the clinical development of a biosimilar is tailored to meet the licensing requirements can help informed decision making in clinical practice.

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Journal British Journal of Cancer
Barbier, L. (Liese), Declerck, P.J, Simoens, S, Neven, P. (Patrick), Vulto, A.G, & Huys, I. (Isabelle). (2019). The arrival of biosimilar monoclonal antibodies in oncology: clinical studies for trastuzumab biosimilars. British Journal of Cancer. doi:10.1038/s41416-019-0480-z