Previously, generic versions of biologics such as Erbitux could not be made by other manufacturers. The regulations are currently changing, although it is unclear when exactly generic biologics in general, or Erbitux specifically, will be available.
For now, it is unlikely that generic Erbitux will be available any time soon. This medicine was approved in February 2004 and will probably be protected from generic competition by patents for at least 12 years from this date.
Like many other brand-name-only medications, Erbitux may be quite expensive. If you do not have insurance, you may be wondering how you can afford treatment. If you do have insurance, you may wonder how you can afford the co-payments for this and other medications.
Some companies offer patient assistance programs that can help with the cost of medications. Bristol-Myers Squibb has a program called Destination Access™ that may help with reimbursement and support. Talk to your healthcare provider about this program or visit the Destination Access Web site at www.destinationaccess.com/index.aspx.
Is Cetuximab a Generic Erbitux?
No, cetuximab is the active ingredient in Erbitux, but is not a generic version of it. What can be confusing is that the active ingredient of a drug is often referred to as the "generic name."
The generic name is different from a generic version of a medicine. In order for there to be a generic version, the original medicine must have gone off-patent, and another company besides the original manufacturer must make the product.
Food and Drug Administration Web site. Vaccines, Blood, and Biologics, Resources for Healthcare Providers. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/ResourcesforYou/HealthcareProviders/default.htm. Accessed November 4, 2011.
Engelberg AB, Kesselheim AS, Avorn J. Balancing Innovation, Access, and Profits -- Market Exclusivity for Biologics. N Engl J Med 2009; 361:1917-1919.
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