New Brunswick has become the third Canadian province to implement a biosimilar switching policy. The province of Alberta has also expanded its switching programme to include biosimilars of the anti-inflammatory treatment adalimumab (Humira).
Following policies initiated in Alberta  and British Columbia  in 2019, the province of New Brunswick in Canada has announced its own biosimilar switching policy, which will apply to approximately 3,000 people in the province.
The Biosimilars Initiative was announced by the Government of New Brunswick on 21 April 2021. The initiative will switch patients receiving originator biological therapy for arthritis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis to a biosimilar version of their treatment by the end of November 2021.
The programme is anticipated to save the province over CA$10 million once fully implemented, according to Health Minister for New Brunswick, Dorothy Shephard. ‘Biosimilars have been proven to work just as safely and effectively as biologic drugs. Savings from increasing their utilization will be reinvested to support coverage of new therapies and improve patient access to more medications’, Shephard added.
The New Brunswick switching policy includes adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), insulin glargine (Lantus), insulin lispro (Humalog) and rituximab (Rituxan). After 30 November 2021, the province’s drug plans will no longer cover the originator drugs, unless a patient is unable to switch to a biosimilar for medical reasons.
Biosimilars Canada, which represents manufacturers of biosimilar medicines in Canada, congratulated New Brunswick on the news. ‘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.
Sandoz Canada, a manufacturer of generic and biosimilar drugs, also welcomed the news. Michel Robidoux, President and General Manager of Sandoz Canada, said: ‘Biosimilar switch policies are an important step towards increasing patient access to high-quality, life-enhancing biosimilar medicines they need while realizing significant cost savings. We urge other provinces across the country to follow B.C., Alberta, and now, New Brunswick’s lead, to promote wider adoption of biosimilars and reinvest savings into the healthcare system while enabling more patients to benefit from biologic treatment’. Robidoux also suggested the cost savings made by the switching policy could help the Canadian healthcare system to face the challenges of COVID-19.
In related news, the province of Alberta has expanded its existing biosimilar switching programme to include adalimumab (Humira), an antibody treatment for inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. This follows the recent expansion of British Columbia’s switching programme to include adalimumab .
Over 3,000 patients in Alberta will be switched from Humira to one of five biosimilar versions over the year beginning May 2021. This means that all three Canadian provinces with a biosimilar switching programme (Alberta, British Columbia and New Brunswick) will require patients taking Humira to switch to a biosimilar version of the drug.
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LATIN AMERICAN FORUM – Coming soon!
To further enhance the objectives of GaBI in sharing information and knowledge that ensure policies supportive of safe biosimilars use, we are pleased to announce that we will be launching a new section on GaBI Online and GaBI Journal, the ‘Latin American Forum’ (in Spanish) featuring the latest news and updates on research and developments in generic and biosimilar medicines in Latin America.
Register to receive the GaBI Latin American Forum newsletter. Inform colleagues and friends of this new initiative.
LATIN AMERICAN FORUM – Próximamente!
Para fomentar los objetivos de GaBI sobre la difusión de información y conocimiento sobre las políticas de apoyo que garantizan el uso seguro de medicamentos biosimilares, nos complace anunciar el lanzamiento de una nueva sección en GaBI Online y GaBI Journal, el ‘Latin American Forum’ (en español), que presentará las últimas noticias y actualizaciones en investigación y desarrollo sobre medicamentos genéricos y biosimilares en Latinoamérica.
Regístrese para recibir el boletín informativo GaBI Latin American Forum. Informe a colegas y amigos sobre esta nueva iniciativa.
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Concerns raised as Canada’s Alberta plans to switch patients to biosimilars [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 May 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Policies-Legislation/Concerns-raised-as-Canada-s-Alberta-plans-to-switch-patients-to-biosimilars
2. 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 2021 May 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Policies-Legislation/Canada-s-British-Columbia-to-switch-patients-to-biosimilars
3. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. British Columbia adds adalimumab to biosimilar switching programme [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 May 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/General/British-Columbia-adds-adalimumab-to-biosimilar-switching-programme
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Source: Alberta Health, Government of New Brunswick