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Yukon Announces Transition to Cost-Saving Biosimilar Medicines

Toronto – March 30, 2023 – Biosimilars Canada, a national association representing Canada’s biosimilar medicines industry, today welcomed the announcement by the Yukon Government that it is implementing a “switching” or transitioning policy to expand the use of biosimilar biologic medicines for its public drug programs.

Starting April 3, residents of the Yukon Territory who are enrolled in Pharmacare and the Chronic Disease and Disability Program will have six months to work with their healthcare providers to make the transition from certain biologic drugs to a biosimilar biologic drug to maintain coverage.

“Biosimilars Canada and its member companies congratulate Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee and the Yukon Government for implementing a biosimilars switching policy to help support the long-term sustainability of its drug programs and healthcare system,” said Jim Keon, President of Biosimilars Canada.

The implementation of a biosimilar switching policy was recommended by the Putting People First report, which was adopted by the Yukon Government in August 2020 and is aimed at transforming the Territory’s health and social services system.

The Yukon is the tenth jurisdiction in Canada to announce a biosimilars switching policy, and follows British Columbia (May 2019), Alberta (December 2019), New Brunswick (April 2021), Quebec (July 2021), the Northwest Territories (December 2021), Nova Scotia (February 2022), Saskatchewan (October 2022), Ontario (December 2022), and Newfoundland and Labrador (March 2023).

The policy will initially apply to Humira adalimumab and Lantus insulin glargine, and will then be expanded to include additional biologic drugs.

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

Biologic medicines have revolutionized the treatment of many disabling and life-threatening diseases. They can, however, cost $10,000 to $25,000 or more to treat a patient 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 with the implementation of successful biosimilar transitioning or “switching” policy. 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.

There is extensive real-world experience with biosimilars in Canada, with more than 1.77 million retail prescriptions filled annually, according to market data from IQVIA. 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. 2

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

About Biosimilar Medicines 3
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.

Jeff Connell
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA)
Mobile: (647) 274-3379  |  Email:

[1]  Health Canada, Biosimilar biologic drugs in Canada: Fact Sheet.

[2] Barbier, L. et. al. The Efficacy, Safety, and Immunogenicity of Switching Between Reference Biopharmaceuticals and Biosimilars: A Systematic Review, March 31, 2020.

[3] Health Canada, Biosimilar biologic drugs in Canada: Fact Sheet