Biologics vs. Biosimilars – Provincial Government policy changes forcing stable patients onto Biosimilars

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Policy changes to Provincial Government across Canada, specifically B.C. are forcing stable patients off biologic medications and onto a biosimilar.

As a patient who has been on a biologic medication since 2013 with success, I think it is illogical, unethical and blatantly wrong to force patients currently stable onto a new medication for non-medical reasons. This should be a decision between patients and their physician, not the government.

A biosimilar is a “non-identical” copy of patented biologic medication which are different on a molecular level to the generic version. While they are very similar, not everyone will respond the same to the “non-identical” copy. This will directly affect the patient’s quality of life and ultimately cost the healthcare system more money. If a patient does not respond to the biosimilar they potentially cannot go back onto their previous biologic medication due to the development of antibodies.

I am certainly not against the use of biosimilars as they are a much cheaper alternative. But utilizing biosimilars as a first method of approach for newly diagnosed patients seems like a much more reasonable approach than forcing stable patients onto an entirely new medication.

Currently it is only infliximab (Remicade) and other biologics used for arthritis being switched in B.C. Other biosimilars are currently in development for other biologics including adalimumab (Humira) which is what I am currently on. More research on the efficacy of biosimilars is needed before forcing a switch.

You can help by going to http://action.crohnsandcolitis.ca/choice and sending a pre-filled email to your local MPP/MLA.

A special thanks to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology for advocating for IBD patients across the country.

Links:

https://crohnsandcolitis.ca/News-Events/News-Releases/Crohn-s-and-Colitis-Canada-Announces-Updated-Posit

https://crohnsandcolitis.ca/Crohns_and_Colitis/documents/2019-September-CCC-Biosimilars-Position-Statement.pdf

Health Canada – Biosimilar biologic drugs in Canada: Fact Sheet


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