The European Commission has green-lighted Novartis unit Sandoz’ Zessly, a biosimilar version of Johnson & Johnson and Merck's Remicade.

The Swiss drugmaker said Zessly (biosimilar infliximab) has been approved for use in all indications cleared for its reference medicine, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and plaque psoriasis.

“We look forward to bringing Zessly to all patients who can benefit from this therapy,” said Kavya Gopal, head of Specialty at Sandoz UK.

“Current figures show that biosimilar medicines help create a more sustainable healthcare system; in the last financial year alone, using biosimilars has saved the NHS £170 million.

“The NHS has moved quickly to achieve these savings and has become an example for healthcare systems across the world in the adoption of biosimilar medicines,” she noted.

Zessly blocks the action of tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha in patients with certain autoimmune diseases in which excess TNF-alpha activity may be harmful or cause onset of disease, this inhibiting an underlying cause of inflammation.

According to Sandoz, the drug’s approval follows a “comprehensive development programme” which confirmed that it matched its reference medicine in terms of safety, efficacy and quality.