Therapies known as “biologics” are powerful and complex drugs made from biological products like antibodies or proteins. The most commonly-prescribed biologic to treat HER2-positive breast cancer is trastuzumab (tras-tu-zu-mab) – The brand name is Herceptin®. Developed in the 1990s, Herceptin attaches to the HER2 protein on the surface of the cancer cell which slows or stops the cancer cell from growing. Biologics have been game-changers for treating many types of diseases, including breast cancer.
Biosimilars are drugs that are “highly similar” to an existing biologic and can be used as an alternative to these drugs. The first FDA-approved biosimilar in the U.S. was a drug to boost white blood cell counts. Biosimilars to trastuzumab (Herceptin®) are FDA-approved for breast cancer treatment and available in market.
Here are four simple facts about biosimilars:
Biosimilars are NOT generic drugs, but they are close.
Biosimilars are just as safe and effective as the original biologic.
Biosimilars may provide more options.
Biosimilars may help reduce health care costs.