Start of Main Content


What are biologics?

Biologics, short for biological medicines, are medicines derived from living sources. They can be developed from proteins, blood, living organisms, or viruses, and may be used to treat, prevent, or cure health conditions.

Since biologics come from living sources, they are often more complex than other medications, and the process of purifying, processing, and producing the medication is much more involved. Once produced, biologics are often more unpredictable than other medications and can be more sensitive to temperature and light.

Some types of biologics include:

  • Insulin glargine (Lantus)
  • Adalimumab (Humira)
  • Bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • Trastuzumab (Herceptin)
  • OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox)

Because biologics are different from most other medications available, they have their own approval process with the FDA and do not have generic alternatives. Instead, they have biosimilars, which are a less expensive alternative that is similar to the biologic but not identical in the way that a generic drug is.

Why are biologics important for healthcare?

Biologics are often used in cases where no other treatment had previously been available. One of the most common biologics is insulin, which is used to help control blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes.

Biologics can also help with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis by preventing inflammatory processes through monoclonal antibodies.

The field of oncology also benefits from biologics. Herceptin and Avastin, two types of biologics, can be used to treat various types of cancers.