Comparator products should be the products that were shown to be safe and efficacious in pivotal clinical trials to ensure prescribability of generics. The use of a common comparator ensures switchability between generics. The selection of the comparator is a national responsibility and may be different between countries. This paper discusses the current recommendations on selection of comparators, the associated problems, and the possibility of harmonization. Most countries follow the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for selecting comparator products and require the comparator product to be obtained from their national markets to ensure switchability between the local comparator and their generics. These recommendations are only feasible in the few countries where the repetition of the bioequivalence study is economically feasible, but they are impracticable in all other countries. Furthermore, the exclusive use of the local comparator to ensure switchability is ethically and scientifically questionable. The innovator product from well-regulated markets should be the global comparator. This harmonization is feasible as the concept already applies in the WHO prequalification program. It is ineffectual to harmonize only the requirements for performing bioequivalence studies, if such a study has to be repeated for every single country simply because of the different comparator products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-606
Number of pages4
JournalThe AAPS journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • bioequivalence study
  • comparator product
  • generic drug development
  • generic drugproduct
  • generic medicines
  • harmonization
  • interchangeability
  • reference product


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