Ontario Needs Biosimilars Switching Policy Without Delay
Waste not, want not!
The Government of Ontario is spending $3 million more than it needs to on biologic drugs every single week — wasted money that could instead be used to provide new coverage for other drugs Ontario patients desperately need, including those who live with rare diseases, and other healthcare services. Ontario needs a biosimilars switching policy without delay.
Off-patent biosimilars will save Ontario more than $147 million every year.
Patients with chronic diseases typically use a biologic medicine for many years. In many cases, these biologic medicines are off-patent and versions of these medicines called biosimilars are available at a much lower cost. The well-controlled physician-supervised switching of patients from original biologic drugs to lower-cost-saving biosimilars would save Ontario more than $147 million annually — while continuing to provide patients with safe and efficacious treatments and high-quality services.
The same efficacy. The same safety. But at a lower cost.
Patients and healthcare providers should feel confident in the use of biosimilar medicines. Health Canada is unequivocal: “there are no expected clinically meaningful differences in efficacy and safety between a biosimilar and the biologic drug” and “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.”
The proof is in the pudding.
Biosimilar switching initiatives have already been successfully implemented by Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories. These jurisdictions have reinvested the savings into their healthcare systems and provided coverage for innovative new therapies. Moreover, the transitioning of patients has been done safely during the pandemic. What more proof of concept does Ontario need? What are we waiting for?
Made in Ontario.
Several biosimilars companies have significant pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in Ontario. The implementation of a switching policy would support continued investment in made-in-Ontario medicines, a boon for the province’s economy. Moreover, a switching policy would help Canada in its efforts to bolster our domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity and become more self-reliant.
It's time to make the switch.
Never before have Ontario taxpayers needed their government to make better use of its limited financial resources. A biosimilar switching policy will yield significant annual savings, enable the province to expand coverage to include new medicines, and strengthen the life sciences investment climate in Ontario. The government has a moral duty to make the switch.
Let’s get it done.
- Biosimilars Canada Press Conference – October 6, 2022
- ODPRN Study – Projected Impact of Biosimilar Substitution Policies on Drug Use and Costs in Ontario, November 2021
- The case for an Ontario biosimilar switching policy
- Pre-Budget Submission, February 2021
- Health Canada Fact Sheet: Biosimilar Biologic Drugs in Canada
Barbier, L., Ebbers, H., et al. The Efficacy, Safety, and Immunogenicity of Switching Between Reference Biopharmaceuticals and Biosimilars: A Systematic Review, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, March 31, 2020