Toronto, June 12, 2019 – The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare’s Final Report highlights the importance of biosimilar medicines in the sustainable implementation of a national pharmacare program.1
The Report states that “Biosimilars are biologic drugs proven to have the same clinical effect as more expensive brand name biologic drugs already authorized for sale. Canada’s use of biosimilars has been very low relative to other countries due to a combination of factors, including limited awareness of the clinical and scientific evidence supporting the use of biosimilars and aggressive marketing techniques used by brand name biologic companies to retain their market share.”
The Council recommends formulary management policies that “support the use of biosimilars and encourage patients and prescribers to choose the most cost-effective therapies to ensure the sustainability of national pharmacare. Prescribers and patients should be better supported with information reinforcing the safety, efficacy and benefits of biosimilars.” While the report makes reference to the “substitution” of biosimilars, the term is not defined in the report.
“Switching or transitioning patients from original biologic treatments to their corresponding biosimilar medicines is the responsible choice for those who manage drug budgets,” said Jim Keon, President of Biosimilars Canada. “Such policies are also consistent with Health Canada’s recommendation that decisions should be made by the treating physician in consultation with the patient and taking into account available clinical evidence and any policies of the relevant jurisdiction.”
“Biosimilars Canada also supports the recommendation that the new Canadian drug agency should work to increase prescriber and public awareness about the equivalency of generics to brand name drugs and the rationale for greater use of generics and biosimilars to keep pharmacare affordable,” Keon added.
Canadian payers recognize that enhanced policies are needed to fully realize the value of biosimilar medicines. Biosimilar transitioning or “switching” initiatives have already been implemented in Canada.
In December 2018 private insurance company Green Shield Canada concluded a successful biologic transitioning pilot project.2
In May 2019 the Government of British Columbia announced a new biosimilar transitioning or “switching” initiative where about 20,400 B.C. PharmaCare patients will work with their health-care team to transition from the biologic to the biosimilar drug within six months. The transitioning of a further 2,700 patients should commence this summer. The projected savings allowed for the province to immediately expand coverage to include two additional drugs, and expand access for existing treatments.3
The Final Report of the Advisory Panel on National Pharmacare is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/corporate/about-health-canada/public-engagement/external-advisory-bodies/implementation-national-pharmacare/final-report.html
About Biosimilar Medicines
A biosimilar biologic drug, or biosimilar, is a drug demonstrated to be highly similar to a biologic drug that was already authorized for sale.4 Health Canada evaluates all the information provided to confirm that the biosimilar and the reference biologic drug are similar and that there are no clinically meaningful differences in safety and efficacy between them.5 Health Canada’s rigorous standards for authorization mean that patients and health care providers can have the same confidence in the quality, safety and efficacy of a biosimilar as any other biologic drug.6
About Biosimilars Canada
Biosimilars Canada is a national association representing the biosimilar medicines industry in Canada. Its member companies are at the forefront of the global development and marketing of biosimilar medicines. Biosimilar medicines are approved by Health Canada as being as safe and efficacious as their reference biologic drugs, and are developed to the same quality standards. Biosimilar medicines present a significant opportunity to embrace cutting-edge therapies while addressing the cost-effectiveness demands on healthcare systems in Canada. Biosimilars Canada is a division of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association. Visit us at www.biosimilarscanada.ca.
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA)
Tel: (416) 223-2333
Mobile: (647) 274-3379
1 Recommendations #31 and #32 pertain to biosimilar medicines.
4 Health Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/biologics-radiopharmaceuticals-genetic-therapies/applications-submissions/guidance-documents/fact-sheet-biosimilars.html