Provincial Biosimilar Drug update

Alberta Biosimilar Initiative

On December 12, 2019, the Alberta government introduced the launch of the Alberta Biosimilar Initiative. This program will require patients using several originator biologic drugs to switch to a biosimilar, and patients using a non-biologic complex drug (NBCD) to switch to its subsequent entry version before July 1, 2020 in order to maintain coverage.




Provincial Biosimilar Drugs update

Alberta Biosimilar Initiative

On December 12, 2019, the Alberta government introduced the launch of the Alberta Biosimilar Initiative. This program will require patients using several originator biologic drugs to switch to a biosimilar, and patients using a non-biologic complex drug (NBCD) to switch to its subsequent entry version before July 1, 2020 in order to maintain coverage.

Biologics are drugs that are engineered using living organisms like yeast and bacteria. The first version of a biologic developed is also known as the “originator” drug. Biosimilars are highly similar to the originator drug they are based on and have been shown to have no clinically meaningful differences in safety or efficacy.

Alberta Health will initially cover both the originator and biosimilar or subsequent entry version of a NBCD drug as patients start the switching process.

The following table outlines the affected originator drugs, their biosimilars or subsequent entry, and the conditions affected by the program.

Biosimilar DrugOriginatorBiosimilar/Subsequent EntryIndications Affected
etanerceptEnbrelBrenzysAnkylosing Spondylitis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
ErelziAnkylosing Spondylitis
Psoriatic Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
infliximab
RemicadeInflectra
Renflexis
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Plaque Psoriasis
Psoriatic Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Crohn’s Disease
Ulcerative Colitis
insulin glargineLantusBasaglarDiabetes (Type 1 and 2)
FilgrastimNeupogenGrastofilNeutropenia
pegfilgrastimNeulastaLapelgaNeutropenia
glatiramer*CopaxoneGlatectMultiple Sclerosis
*Glatiramer is a non-biologic complex drug where the originator is Copaxone and the subsequent entry is Glatect.


Equitable Life is actively investigating the benefit, risk and appropriate plan changes associated with this new policy on private drug plans and will keep you informed.

For more information about the Alberta Biosimilars Initiative, consult the Alberta government website.


British Columbia

In 2019, BC Pharmacare introduced a Biosimilars Policy that impacted coverage of three biologic drugs – Remicade, Enbrel and Lantus. As of November 25, 2019, these drugs were no longer eligible in BC for most conditions for which lower cost biosimilar versions are available. Patients in the province with these conditions were required to switch to biosimilar versions of these drugs in order to maintain their coverage.

The second phase of the BC Biosimilar Policy takes effect March 6, 2020 when Remicade will be delisted for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Patients in the province with these conditions will be required to switch to Inflectra or Renflexis in order to maintain their coverage.

Biosimilar DrugOriginatorBiosimilarIndications Affected
infliximabRemicadeInflectra RenflexisCrohn’s Disease Ulcerative Colitis


Ontario

In November 2019 Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliot indicated that the government was planning to launch consultations to explore solutions in managing biologics.

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