Geneva, Switzerland – The Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM) Chairman Harry Gewanter, M.D. and International Advisory Board Chair and pharmacist, Philip J. Schneider, M.S., F.A.S.H.P., jointly presented at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 60th International Nonproprietary Naming Stakeholders Session on Monday, April 13, 2015. The duo provided perspectives from both a physician and pharmacist viewpoint and offered support for the WHO’s Biological Qualifier (BQ) proposal.

This stakeholder session was the second time Dr. Gewanter was given the privilege to present and it was ASBM’s fourth time attending. ASBM was especially pleased that Dr. Schneider presented with Dr. Gewanter and was able to provide a pharmacist’s view on the topic of naming.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to present at the WHO,” said Dr. Gewanter in his opening remarks. “Biosimilars’ high sensitivity to manufacturing differences, light, heat, denaturing; and their potential to stimulate unwanted immune reactions, means clear product identification is essential. ASBM believes that information, cooperation, communication and collaboration are vital to ensuring the best outcomes for patients across the globe. Implementing the WHO’s BQ proposal will make patient safety a priority.”
Dr. Schneider agreed that the BQ proposal would help ensure safety through clear product identification.

“All medicines, regardless of their similarity, should be easily identifiable,” said Dr. Schneider. “The pharmacy community has long advocated that drug names be clear to help avoid confusion and errors – and this could not be more true when it comes to highly complex biologic medicines. They must be easily distinguishable from each other and from other medicines. It is our hope that regulators around the world, including the FDA and EMA, adopt the BQ proposal by the WHO INN Programme, and its application within their jurisdictions.”

ASBM has been very supportive of the WHO’s draft BQ proposal that would assign a four-letter alphabetic code to all biologics. In September of last year, ASBM and 14 of its member groups submitted comments to the WHO supporting the BQ proposal because it ensures clear product identification and promotes manufacturer accountability.

About the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines
The Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM) is an organization composed of diverse healthcare groups and individuals from patients to physicians, biotechnology companies that develop innovative and biosimilar medicines and others who are working together to ensure patient safety is at the forefront of the biosimilars policy discussion.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Reilly
Executive Director
Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines
Phone: 202-222-8326