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To Promote Biosimilars, Cancer Care Ontario Releases Patient Education Handout


The fact sheet is being released as Canada awaits the launch of additional anticancer biosimilars.

Cancer Care Ontario (CCO), the cancer advisory organization for the government of Ontario, Canada, has released a new patient fact sheet for those starting or switching to biosimilars.

The fact sheet covers topics including the following:

  • What biosimilars are
  • The difference between biosimilars and generics
  • How biosimilars compare to reference biologics
  • Why biosimilars are on the market
  • The benefits of using biosimilars
  • How biosimilars are monitored
  • The continuity of care when using a biosimilar

The fact sheet is being released as Canada awaits the launch of additional anticancer biosimilars. Already approved and marketed in Canada is biosimilar trastuzumab (Ogivri). Approved but not yet marketed products include biosimilar rituximab (Truxima) and biosimilar bevacizumab (Zirabev).

Earlier this year, a report said Canada's use of biosimilars has been low relative to other countries because of a combination of factors, including limited awareness of clinical and scientific evidence supporting their use and strong efforts by brand-name biologic companies to retain market share.

The report, “A Prescription for Canada: Achieving Pharmacare for All,” contains 2 recommendations that pertain to the use of biosimilars. One recommendation says that there should be formulary management policies, including requiring biosimilar substitution and encouraging patients and providers to choose the most cost-effective therapies. Prescribers and patients will need better support via information that reinforces the safety, efficacy, and benefits of biosimilars, the report said.

The second recommendation says that the Canadian drug agency should also work to increase awareness about the equivalency of generics to brand-name drugs and the rationale for the greater use of generics and biosimilars in order to keep pharmaceutical care affordable.

In Canada, prescription drug coverage is split between public programs for those 65 or older, in long-term care, or without income, while private, employer-based coverage applies to all others. There are over 100 public prescription drug plans and over 100,000 private plans, all with their own premiums, copayments, deductibles, and annual limits.

In the spring, CCO partnered with the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance to create a pan-Canadian Oncology Biosimilars Initiative, which aims to ensure appropriate implementation and cost-effective use of therapeutic oncology biosimilars across Canada.

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