ECCO position statement: The use of biosimilar medicines in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

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Biologics have become key agents for the management of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Biosimilars are biological medicines similar to previously authorized biologics and are already available in some countries. This ECCO Position Statement defines the collective view of European specialist in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) concerning biosimilars. Biosimilars are not comparable to generic small molecules, since both efficacy and toxicity are difficult to predict due to subtle molecular changes that can have profound effects on clinical efficacy and immunogenicity. Direct evidence of safety and benefit from clinical trials in IBD, post-marketing pharmacoviligance, and unequivocal identification of the product as a biosimilar should be requirements before approval. Switching from an established biologic to a biosimilar to save costs is likely to be as inappropriate and inefecctive as switching between current biologics that act on the same target, except when there is loss of response.

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