Toronto – April 21, 2021 – Biosimilars Canada, a national association representing Canada’s biosimilar medicines industry, today congratulated the Government of New Brunswick for implementing a biosimilar “switching” or transitioning policy to expand the use of biosimilar medicines under the province’s public drug plans.
New Brunswick’s new biosimilar policy is expected to save the province more than $10 million annually when fully implemented, which will be reinvested to support coverage of new therapies. About 3,000 patients on the province’s drug plans who are living with diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis will have until November 30 to switch from an originator biologic drug to a biosimilar biologic drug.
“Biosimilars Canada congratulates the Government of New Brunswick and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard for becoming the first province in Atlantic Canada – and the third province in the country – to implement a biosimilar switching policy to improve the sustainability of the province’s public drug plans and support increased patient access to medicines,” said Michel Robidoux, Chair of Biosimilars Canada.
Biologic medicines have revolutionized the treatment of many disabling and life-threatening diseases but it can cost $10,000 to $25,000 or more to treat a patient with a biologic drug for a year, which is placing an enormous financial strain on drug budgets.
The full benefits of biosimilars cannot be realized unless drug plans adopt policies that support their expanded use, as the B.C. and Alberta public drug plans did with the implementation of successful biosimilar transitioning or “switching” policies in 2019.1,2 Under these policies patients who use a biologic drug to treat a chronic condition are transitioned or “switched” from an original biologic drug to a biosimilar biologic drug under the supervision of their treating physician.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has burdened healthcare systems like never before and payers, employers, patients and healthcare providers are all looking for ways to create savings for sustainability, and biosimilars are an important solution,” 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 follow the lead of British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick in bringing the benefits of biosimilar switching programs to their patients, health care providers and taxpayers.”
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.”3
There is extensive real-world experience with biosimilars in Canada, with more than 600,000 retail prescriptions filled annually, according to IQVIA data. Biosimilars are also used extensively in the hospital and oncology markets. There have also been more than 178 clinical trials worldwide involving approximately 21,000 switched patients which confirm that switching from an originator biologic drug to a biosimilar biologic drug is not associated with any major efficacy, safety, or immunogenicity issues.4
Biosimilars Canada and its member companies look forward to working with the Government of New Brunswick to ensure the successful implementation of its biosimilars switching policy.
Full details of the New Brunswick biosimilars initiative are available at: www.gnb.ca/biosimilars.
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 Medicines5
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.
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA)
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1B.C. PharmaCare website, Biosimilars Information for Patients.
2Alberta Health website, Biosimilar drugs.
3Health Canada, Biosimilar biologic drugs in Canada: Fact Sheet.
4Barbier, L. et. al. The Efficacy, Safety, and Immunogenicity of Switching Between Reference Biopharmaceuticals and Biosimilars: A Systematic Review, March 31, 2020.
5Health Canada, Biosimilar biologic drugs in Canada: Fact Sheet
New Brunswick Becomes Third Province in Canada to Implement Biosimilar Switching Policy