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BC PharmaCare Expands Biosimilar Switching Program

Time for Other Provinces to Move Forward with Biosimilar Switching Initiatives

Toronto, September 6, 2019 – Biosimilars Canada, a national association representing Canada’s biosimilar medicines industry, today congratulated the Government of British Columbia for building on the success of its biosimilar switching program and called on other provinces to implement similar programs.

Under the second phase of its biosimilar switching program BC PharmaCare will require patients taking the originator Remicade® infliximab product for the treatment of Crohns and colitis to be “switched” or transitioned by their clinicians to an infliximab biosimilar within a six-month period.

“The decision of the Government of British Columbia to expand its biosimilar switching initiative demonstrates continued confidence in biosimilars as a way to manage costs and fund the expansion of patient drug coverage while supporting positive patient outcomes,” said Michel Robidoux, Chair of Biosimilars Canada and President and General Manager of Sandoz 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,” said Jim Keon, President of Biosimilars Canada. “Health Canada is clear in its position that patients and health care providers can have confidence in switching from original biologic treatments to their corresponding biosimilar biologic medicines.”

On August 23, 2019 Health Canada published a new Fact Sheet which confirms the safety and efficacy of switching to biosimilar treatments. It states: “In the context of biosimilar use, Health Canada considers switching between authorized products to refer to a change from routine use of one specific product to routine use of another specific product. 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.”1

While the use of biosimilar medicines has been well-established in Europe with more than 700 million patient days of use over the past decade, the uptake of these medicines in Canada for chronic treatments has been much slower as public and private payers, with few exceptions, have not actively implemented policy levers to support their use beyond naïve or new patients.

Full details of Phase Two of the BC biosimilars initiative are available at:

About Biosimilar Medicines2
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.

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

Jeff Connell
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA)
Tel: (416) 223-2333
Mobile: (647) 274-3379

1 Health Canada.
2 Ibid.


BC PharmaCare Expands Biosimilar Switching Program