Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has obtained approval to sell the first biosimilar drug Filgrastim Teva in South Africa

Business Day today reports that Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has become the first company to have a biosimilar drug approved for sale in SA.

Filgrastim Teva, Teva’s version of Amgen’s filgrastim is used to boost white blood cell production in cancer patients. Chemotherapy disrupts production of neutrophils which hampers the patient’s ability to fight off infection, with consequent mouth and skin infections – making chemotherapy more difficult.

The Cancer Alliance’s Salomé Meyer welcomed the launch of Filgrastim Teva, but said it remained too costly. “It is an old medicine, first approved by the FDA in 1991, and warrants a much bigger reduction in price. We need an era where cancer medicines are affordable to our patients,” she said. According to Cipla Medpro CEO Paul Miller, a pack of five 300 microgram injections of Filgrastim Teva will cost R3,794.76 (including VAT), compared to Neupogen, which costs R5,421.09.

Unfortunately, SA’s drug approval process is still very slow. Teva first sought regulatory approval more than five years ago, and there is a backlog of products awaiting scrutiny.

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