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“Make the switch”: Biosimilars Canada pitches Ontario on savings, benefits of switching to biosimilars

Province could save $147 million each year by implementing a switching policy

QUEEN’S PARK – October 11, 2022 – Biosimilars Canada hosted a press conference at Queen’s Park today, calling on the government of Premier Doug Ford to implement a biosimilars switching policy.

“A biosimilar switching policy will save the Ontario government $3 million per week — that’s over $147 million per year — all while providing Ontario patients with reliable prescription medicine and helping support Ontario’s domestic biologics industry,” said Jim Keon, President of Biosimilars Canada. “For a number of months, Premier Ford and the Ontario government have been working on a proposal to implement a biosimilar switching policy; in essence, this would mean that Ontario’s health-care sector would require providers to dispense biosimilars rather than the more expensive brand-name equivalent. Implementing a switching policy in Ontario is a responsible way to save significant taxpayers’ dollars. It would contribute to system sustainability and enable the government to fund other priorities, while continuing to provide high-quality patient care.”

Michel Robidoux, Chair of Biosimilars Canada and President and General Manager of Sandoz Canada, explained, “A biosimilars switching policy has been successfully implemented in BC, Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories. In Quebec, the Health Minister recently stated his estimation that switching to biosimilars had saved his province some $140 million, $40 million more than originally estimated. This represents significant savings at a time of acute pressure on our health-care system. More than just the savings to taxpayers, a biosimilars switching policy would support a critical industry that employs thousands of Ontario workers. Switching to biosimilars would support the life-sciences ecosystem in Ontario. Again, in Quebec, the province implemented a biosimilars switching policy in 2021 and has continued to attract major life-sciences investments. This is clearly a model Ontario can learn from, both in terms of tax-dollar savings but also in terms of market investment in the life sciences.”

“Biosimilar biologic drugs are approved by Health Canada and Health Canada is clear that physician-supervised switching is a safe and efficacious practice, and the safety and efficacy of switching patients to biosimilars is also well established internationally and supported by numerous studies. And to be clear, biosimilars are not new. There is already extensive use of biosimilars in Canada and abroad. In fact, Health Canada has approved 50 biosimilars to date for use in the Canadian market,” said Dr. Carter Thorne, Senior Consultant in Rheumatology at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket.

“A biosimilar switching plan would signal to biosimilars companies that Ontario and Canada are open for business and investment. It would support the ongoing introduction of new biosimilars as patents expire,” added Jim Keon. “We know the government of Premier Ford wants to save taxpayers money and deliver efficiencies across government; biosimilar switching would save taxpayers meaningful money over $3 million each week, which could be reinvested back into the health-care system. We know the government of Premier Ford has looked closely at this policy change, and but for the election this spring, it might have already been implemented. So, let’s get it done, let’s implement a biosimilar switching policy. Biosimilars Canada strongly supports the development and implementation of a biosimilar switching policy in Ontario, and we are optimistic the Ford government will deliver this important efficiency, which will save us money and allow us to prioritize scarce public dollars.”

About Biosimilars Canada
Biosimilars Canada is a national association representing the biosimilar medicines industry in Canada. Our member companies are at the forefront of the global development and marketing of biosimilar medicines. Biosimilars Canada provides leadership in educating Canadian stakeholders about the safety and efficacy of biosimilar medicines, and advocates for policies that support their timely approval, reimbursement, market acceptance and expanded use. Biosimilars Canada is a division of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association. Visit us at www.biosimilarscanada.ca.

About Biosimilar Medicines[1]

A biosimilar biologic drug, or biosimilar, is a drug demonstrated to be highly similar to a biologic drug that was already authorized for sale. 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. Health Canada’s rigorous standards for authorization mean that you can have the same confidence in the quality, safety and efficacy of a biosimilar as any other biologic drug.

For more information:

Jeff Connell
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA)
Mobile: (647) 274-3379
Email: jeff@canadiangenerics.ca


[1] Source: 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