Canadian provinces increase use of biosimilar drugs

National and provincial Canadian governments are increasingly employing strategies to drive use of biosimilars ahead of originator products to achieve cost savings for healthcare systems, according to Canada’s Minister of Health.

British Colombia (B.C.) has become the most recent province to make such a move, using its PharmaCare programme to require biosimilars to be used in favour of originator drugs.

Adrian Dix, British Columbia’s Minister of Health said:

“B.C. is leading the country by promoting the widespread use of biosimilars, which have been proven to work just as safely and effectively as higher priced biologics. To date, Canada is far behind European jurisdictions. Biosimilars are a necessary step to ensure PharmaCare provides existing coverage for more people and funds new drugs well into the future.”

The move comes after the announcement in May that the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) will no longer review biosimilars through its CDR and pCODR processes from 1 June 2019. Although these review processes were conducted in a streamlined manner compared to those for non-biosimilar products, it was still felt that CADTH assessments caused unnecessary delay for patients.

CADTH say:

“Effective immediately, submissions for biosimilars should be filed directly with the jurisdictions and pCPA. There may be rare circumstances where a CADTH review may be required for a biosimilar (e.g., the reference product was not reviewed by CADTH or a drug plan); CADTH and the drug plans would consider these on a case-by-case basis. Any manufacturers with questions regarding eligibility for biosimilar submissions should contact CADTH (requests@cadth.ca)”

These developments follow a ruling in Quebec, later withdrawn on appeal, that biosimilars must be used in place of an originator product, in this case Remicade. It remains to be seen if Quebec will pursue these measures by another route.

Read more here on the B.C. announcement here, and on the CADTH announcement here.

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Published 28. May 2019 in News, News Canada