Toronto, December 12, 2019 – Biosimilars Canada, a national association representing Canada’s biosimilar medicines industry, today congratulated the Government of Alberta for becoming the second province in Canada to implement a biosimilar “switching” or transitioning program.
Biosimilars are therapeutically equivalent to originator biologic drugs and are becoming an increasingly important part of patient care across Canada as public and private drug plans implement policies to expand their use. Patients with chronic diseases typically use a biologic medicine for many years, and biosimilars cannot fully contribute to health care sustainability unless these patients are switched or transitioned to biosimilar medicines.
Today’s announcement comes six months after British Columbia became the first province in Canada to require eligible patients to switch from an originator biologic drug to a biosimilar biologic drug. Insurers such as Pacific Blue Cross and Green Shield Canada also encourage the switch to biosimilars.
“The decisions of the Alberta and British Columbia governments to implement biosimilar switching initiatives demonstrate continued confidence in biosimilars as a way to manage costs while supporting positive patient outcomes,” said Jim Keon, President of Biosimilars Canada. “Switching to biosimilar treatments is the responsible choice for drug programs, and it is time for other provinces to bring the benefits of biosimilar switching programs to their patients, health care providers and taxpayers.”
Biologic medicines have revolutionized the treatment and prevention of many disabling and life-threatening diseases over the past 50 years, but they are also very expensive and are a significant driver of increasing prescription drug costs. Just 1.7 per cent of Canadian prescriptions were filled with biologic drugs in 2018, yet the cost of these prescriptions represented 29.9 per cent of Canada’s total prescription drug costs that year.
Switching from an originator biologic drug to a biosimilar is a safe and effective practice. Health Canada confirms that “patients and health care providers can have confidence that biosimilars are effective and safe for each of their authorized indications, and that no differences are expected in efficacy and safety following a change in routine use between a biosimilar and its reference biologic drug in an authorized indication.”1
Biosimilars Canada looks forward to working with the Government of Alberta to ensure the successful implementation of its biosimilars initiative.
Full details of the Alberta biosimilars initiative are available at: https://www.alberta.ca/biosimilar-drugs.aspx
About Biosimilar Medicines2
A biosimilar biologic drug, or biosimilar, is a biologic drug that is highly similar to a biologic drug that was already authorized for sale. Biosimilars are manufactured to the same regulatory standards as other biologic drugs and are authorized after a scientific evaluation by Health Canada. Biosimilars are authorized by Health Canada for the indications listed in the Product Monograph. Patients and health care providers can have confidence that biosimilars are effective and safe for each of their authorized indications. No differences are expected in efficacy and safety following a change in routine use between a biosimilar and its reference biologic drug in an authorized indication.
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 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