Another Province Adds Biosimilar Etanercept to Formulary as Canadian Drug Prices Fall

February 8, 2018
Samantha DiGrande

Recently, the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) annonced that it has reached a deal with generic drug makers to cut the prices of dozens of popular medications in exchange for an agreement that no jurisdiction will move to a system of public tendering for its drugs. In addition to the nationwide generic price cut, the province of Quebec also announced that it is the most recent Canadian area to add biosimilar etanercept (Erelzi) to its formulary.

Recently, the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA)—the organization that negotiates group discounts on behalf of Canada’s public drug plans—announced that it has reached a deal with generic drug makers to cut the prices of dozens of popular medications in exchange for an agreement that no jurisdiction will move to a system of public tendering for its drugs. This announcement comes less than a year after Quebec suggested a move to a system in which drug companies submit bids to become the sole suppliers of particular medications.

Under the new deal, companies agreed to drop the prices of nearly 70 of Canada’s top-selling, off-patent drugs by between 25% to 40% as of April 1. These price cuts are said to be worth about $1.5 billion over the next 5 years, when the deal expires. The most widely used drugs on the list treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and depression.

“Whether [individuals] are covered under a public/provincial drug plan or an employer-sponsored drug plan, or if they have no drug plan at all—the new prices apply to them,” said Jeff Connell, vice president of corporate affairs for the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association in a statement.

This arrangement is expected to save patients $385 million in its first year and $3 billion over 5 years through both the price cuts and the industry’s promise to bring more innovative, money-saving generics to market.

In addition to the nationwide generic price cut, the province of Quebec also announced that it is the most recent Canadian area to add biosimilar etanercept (Erelzi) to its formulary of exception drugs covered by the province’s Public Prescription Drug Insurance Plan for the treatment of multiple inflammatory diseases.

Erelzi is reimbursed in this plan under specific criteria for the treatment of moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in adults, and for reducing signs and symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Erelzi will be available in a pre-filled syringe or a pre-filled pen presentation.

Quebec is the second Canadian province to add the etanercept biosimilar to its public drug plan in recent days; Ontario announced the addition of the biosimilar in December 2017. Both provinces’ plans reimburse the drug under the same criteria.

Sandoz, maker of the biosimilar Erelzi, “…is pleased that Quebec recognizes the important impact access to Erelzi can have on reducing the burden of diseases and delivering important savings to the healthcare system and the public drug plan,” said Nadia Turchetta, executive director of biopharmaceuticals for Sandoz Canada in a statement.

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