Innovative Medicines Canada disappointed by British Columbia government’s move to limit patient choice and access to therapies

Posted on June 3, 2019

Ottawa, June 3, 2019 – Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) expressed its disappointment in the Government of British Columbia’s recent decision to force patients to switch from originator biologic therapies to biosimilar therapies and to delist the related originator biologic therapy from its provincial formulary. Switching patients from biologic therapies to biosimilar therapies should be decided on a case-by-case basis, in agreement with the treating physician, in order to ensure the highest level of safety and effectiveness of the treatment.

“Governments should be advancing policies that put the patient first by ensuring the best and most therapeutic choice for patients and their healthcare providers,” stated Pamela Fralick, President of IMC. “Both originator biologic and biosimilar drugs have a place in treating Canadians – one should not be denied over the other.”

IMC is the national voice of Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical industry, which includes member companies that produce originator biologic drugs as well as biosimilar drugs – sometimes even within the same company.

The BC government recently announced changes to its PharmaCare program that would force patients using originator biologic drugs to switch to biosimilar drugs. British Columbians living with either ankylosing spondylitis, diabetes, plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis have been given six months to switch their prescription to the biosimilar drug. After November 29, 2019, the BC government will delist the originator biologic drug from its provincial formulary (the list of drugs the provincial government will reimburse).

“In what should be an equitable and balanced procurement process, both biologic and biosimilar drugs should be given the opportunity to fully participate in open and competitive price negotiations with governments,” continued Ms. Fralick. “Canadians should be alarmed that any of their governments would attempt to limit citizens’ access to innovative therapies – whether biologic or biosimilar – without consideration of the therapeutic value or clinical outcome.”

IMC believes that healthcare providers are best placed to determine appropriate treatments, based on medical history and diagnosis, the experience and judgment of healthcare professionals, and current clinical guidelines.

IMC and its member companies recognize governments are under budgetary pressures, particularly as they relate to healthcare spending. “Our industry is ready and willing to be part of the solution in support of governments’ commitments to accessible and affordable medicines,” concluded Ms. Fralick.

About Innovative Medicines Canada

Innovative Medicines Canada is the national voice of Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical industry. We advocate for policies that enable the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative medicines and vaccines that improve the lives of all Canadians. We support our members’ commitment to being valued partners in the Canadian healthcare system.


For further information:

Sarah Dion-Marquis
Director, Media and Public Relations
Telephone: 613-769-6510

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