In Canada, More Mandatory Switching

In Canada, a new jurisdiction inaugurates mandatory switching to biosimilars.

The Northwest Territories has become the fifth Canadian jurisdiction to mandate switching to biosimilars for patients in the public health system. The Northwest Territories is a sparsely populated (41,000) wilderness area that is known for its native settlements, European immigration, fur trade and gold prospecting history (Yellowknife).

Public officials said in a statement that the biosimilar switching policy will be consistent with those already established in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Alberta, and Quebec. Canada has begun imposing mandatory biosimilar switching programs following lackluster voluntary biosimilar uptake. Biosimilars are highly similar to the original brand drugs they reference and just as safe and efficacious. They enter the market at discounts to the originator drugs and help to bring down the costs of health care and improve patient access to critical medicines.

The Canadian Rheumatology Association strongly recommends that access to citrate-free Humira be made available for Canadian children requiring treatment with Humira.

A statement by Biosimilars Canada, a trade association of biosimilars producers, explained that in the Northwest Territories switching will become mandatory for patients on 10 biologic reference drugs for which biosimilars are available, within the following therapeutic areas: arthritis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis. The transition to biosimilars must occur by June 20, 2022.

“The full benefits of biosimilars cannot be realized unless drug plans adopt policies that support their expanded use with the implementation of successful biosimilar transitioning or “switching” policy,” the group said.

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