PEI expanding safe use of Biosimilars
Prince Edward Island is joining several other provinces and territories by expanding the use of biosimilar drug treatments for Island residents. Through the PEI Biosimilar Initiative, coverage under PEI Pharmacare for certain drugs will be replaced with coverage for biosimilar drugs.
Biosimilars are highly similar versions of brand-name original biologic drugs. As defined by Health Canada, biologic drugs come from living organisms or from their cells. Examples of biologic drugs include insulin, growth hormones and antibodies. Biologic drugs are generally larger and more complex in composition than chemically produced pharmaceutical drugs.
Biosimilars are produced when the patent expires on the original drug. Biosimilars are less expensive than the original, but they are reviewed by Health Canada to ensure they work in the same way as the reference biologic drugs and are equally effective. This is very similar to the process for generic pharmaceutical drugs that people commonly receive as prescriptions.
Starting October 12, 2023 those covered under PEI Pharmacare program will begin switching to a biosimilar version for certain biologic drugs, including some insulins and medications used for treating Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Patients are encouraged to discuss switching at their next appointment with their health care provider.
“Patients will continue receiving the same high-quality treatment, while government will be able to fund more new drug therapies, bring innovation to the PEI health care system and continue its work to deliver improved patient care. Biosimilars undergo the same rigorous approval and biosimilars are proven to be highly similar in terms of safety and effectiveness.”
- Health and Wellness Minister Mark McLane
Pharmacare beneficiaries will have until June 30, 2024 to work with their healthcare providers to switch to a biosimilar version of their drug. Health PEI and Government of PEI will continue to work with partners, including physicians, pharmacists and manufacturers to ensure a successful transition.
“This switch will allow PEI to optimize the use of public resources, invest more in new and innovative therapies and continue to grow the list of publicly funded medications while improving access and affordability for all Islanders” said Kilby Rinco, Health PEI Director of Provincial Pharmacy Services, PD&T Co-Chair. “Patients and health care providers can be confident that the quality, safety and patient benefits of biosimilars are highly similar to the original biologic drugs based on the Health Canada framework
|Drug||Originator brand name (switch from||Biosimilar brand name
|Reimbursed conditions may include|
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
Psoriatic arthritisRheumatoid arthritis
Glatiramer acetate (a non-biologic complex drug)
Rheumatoid arthritisUlcerative colitis
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA)Microscopic polyangiitis (MPA)
As new biosimilars become available, the Biosimilar Initiative will also apply to other originator biologics listed on the PEI Pharmacare formulary.
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Department of Health and Wellness