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Put the patient at the centre of health policy decisions

As biosimilar drugs including insulins enter the Canadian marketplace, Diabetes Canada recently released its updated position statement regarding these products.

Many factors - geography, finances, age, and others - can significantly impact a person's diabetes control, experience with the disease and overall health. Based on consultation with Canadians living with diabetes, medical professionals, and other experts, Diabetes Canada updated its position statement to help focus the policy discussions with governments, businesses and the public.

“Diabetes rates have risen significantly in Canada over the past few decades and health care costs have correspondingly skyrocketed,” says Dr. Seema Nagpal, vice-president of Science & Policy with Diabetes Canada. “We acknowledge that funding decisions related to health systems and services are increasingly being made in an environment of limited fiscal resources. However, there must be a balance and we want to ensure people living with diabetes are supported to achieve their full health potential, with the appropriate consideration given to the cost of doing so. Patient outcomes must be the centre of health policy decisions”

Diabetes Canada welcomes that biosimilar insulins offer additional treatment choices for people living with diabetes and may be the preferred option for some. “However, we also believe that the decision to switch from an original biologic drug to a biosimilar insulin must be made jointly by patients living with diabetes and their health care providers,” says Nagpal.

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.”

An abbreviated list of some of the list of recommendations for those living with diabetes and their provider include:

  • 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 sufficient monitoring to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Additionally, Diabetes Canada recommends that governments and private insurers:

  • 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.

A complete listing of recommendations can be found here.

Category Tags: Advocacy & Policy;

Region: National