Geneva, Switzerland – On October 13th, the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM) presented before the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) 61st Consultation on International Nonproprietary Names (INN). ASBM Chairman Harry L Gewanter, MD presented physician perspectives on biosimilar naming gathered from prescribers in eleven countries. This included data from ASBM’s recent survey of Latin American physicians, 94% of whom supported the WHO’s Biological Qualifier (BQ) Proposal, which would assign a unique four-letter suffix to each biologic. A similar and potentially-compatible naming system was proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Draft Guidance released September 28th.

“Clear product identification is critical to physicians around the world, and it aids regulators in tracking the long-term safety and efficacy of these medicines. We are encouraged by the positive reception the BQ is receiving both from physicians and from other leading regulators like the FDA, and are honored to participate in its development”, said Gewanter.

Joining him to present the pharmacist perspective on biologic naming was Ronald P. Jordan, Dean of the Chapman University School of Pharmacy, former president of the American Pharmacists Association and current ASBM Advisory Board member.

Jordan shared data from ASBM’s survey of 401 U.S. pharmacists, which found 68% supported distinguishable naming for all biologics, including biosimilars.

“These results are not surprising;” said Jordan. “Pharmacists know that their ability to improve patient outcomes and safety is hampered, unless they can clearly distinguish similar biologic medicines from one another. Distinguishable names are essential for tracking, reporting and discussion of specific product indications, contraindications or any potential adverse responses. To protect the hope these new agents offer in terms of better care and lower costs, clearly associating use and results accurately with each source, requires precise product identification.”

ASBM has been very supportive of the WHO’s draft BQ proposal, providing data and testimony in the last several INN Open Sessions for Stakeholders, most recently the 60th Consultation held in April, and the INN’s Front Page Meeting held in June.