Neighbouring provinces, British Columbia and Alberta, are changing their biosimilar programs by transitioning rapid-acting originator insulins to biosimilars. Biosimilars are defined by Health Canada to be a biologic drug that is highly similar to a biologic drug that was already authorized for sale.
In British Columbia, Health Minister, Adrian Dix, announced December 1 that individuals using insulin aspart (NovoRapid) and insulin lispro (Humalog) will have until May 29, 2022 to switch to the biosimlars Trurapi and Admelog in order to maintain PharmaCare coverage. Learn more about British Columbia’s Biosimilars Initiative.
In Alberta, individuals 18 years of age and older using Humalog are required to switch to Admelog by February 1, 2022, and from NovoRapid to Trurapi by April 1, 2022. After these dates, the originator biologic drugs will no longer be covered by the Alberta government sponsored drug plan. Patients under the age of 18 are not required to switch to a biosimilar. Learn more about the Alberta’s Biosimilars Initiative.
“Diabetes Canada is aware increasing rates of diabetes impacts costs o the healthcare system, and force governments to make decisions based on fiscal resources,” says Joan King, government relations director for Diabetes Canada. “Costs will be reduced and health outcomes improved for people with diabetes when provinces commit to a coordinated approach to diabetes, Diabetes 360°.”
Diabetes Canada believes in a wholistic and patient centered approach that considers risk reduction for type 2 diabetes, screening, optimal management and avoidance of complications, rather than a singular focus on the cost reduction of insulins. The decision to use a biologic drug or a biosimilar insulin, and all decisions with respect to diabetes care regimens, must be made jointly by individuals living with diabetes and their health-care providers, not by governments.
Diabetes Canada released a policy position to help guide governments and policymakers on this important issue. Two of the recommendations from the list provided to governments and private insurers are:
- Do not implement forced non-medical switching policies that require patients established on treatment to switch from a reference biologic drug to a biosimilar insulin without consideration of clinical and contextual circumstances.
- Provide sufficient information and support to patients and request informed consent to switch from a biologic drug to a biosimilar insulin.
Additionally, Diabetes Canada recommends those living with diabetes and their provider:
- Consider biosimilar insulins when initiating treatment with insulin.
- Be informed of all relevant information about the use of biosimilar insulin and have an informed discussion between patient and health care provider.
- In the absence of clinical or contextual circumstances that compromise a patient’s health, and with discussion and consent, consider switching to a biosimilar insulin for patients with enough monitoring to ensure safety and effectiveness.
A complete listing of recommendations can be found on diabetes.ca.
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