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Praise for Canada’s BC after it adopts biosimilar transitioning policy Posted 06/09/2019

The Canadian Biosimilars Forum and Green Shield Canada have publicly commended the government of the province of British Columbia (BC) for announcing that it will implement biosimilar transitioning [1]. Here, patients will transition in a controlled manner from using a reference biological drug to its biosimilar. In their announcement, the Forum believes that BC will make big savings that will allow increased access to existing therapies and faster access to new medicines.

Biosimilars have been used across Europe for more than a decade and at present, 13 countries support policies to implement biosimilar transitioning. This form of policy has been supported by scientific literature as being safe and effective. It can improve access to medicines by vastly reducing healthcare spending through replacing the use of reference biologicals with cheaper biosimilars.

Biologicals are one of Canada's fastest-growing segments of pharmaceutical spending. They accounted for sales of CA$7.6 billion in 2017 and 35.5 per cent of total brand prescription sales, including seven out of the top 10 pharmaceutical drugs [2]. As such, transitioning to biosimilars could offer great savings whilst safely providing a positive impact on both patients and long-term health system sustainability.

Although biosimilars offer many benefits, their use in Canada is low at present. The Canadian Biosimilars Forum is an alliance of biosimilars companies including, Merck Canada, Pfizer Canada, Sandoz Canada and Teva Canada. Green Shield Canada is a not-for-profit health company that provides drug, dental, extended health care, vision, hospital and travel benefits to individuals and groups. These two organizations stand in support of BC’s biosimilar transitioning decision and hope that other provinces will also take steps to increase the uptake of biosimilars.

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References
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Canada’s British Columbia to switch patients to biosimilars [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Sep 6]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Policies-Legislation/Canada-s-British-Columbia-to-switch-patients-to-biosimilars
2. IQVIA PharmaFocus 2021 Update: Section 9 The Business of Pharmaceutical, November 2017 – p.116

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