May 27, 2019
For Immediate Release
ARTHRITIS CONSUMER EXPERTS STATEMENT ON B.C. GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF BIOSIMILARS INITIATIVE
(VANCOUVER) — Arthritis Consumer Experts is fully supportive of the Government of British Columbia’s launch of the Biosimilars Initiative, which will implement new reimbursement coverage for patients on infliximab or etanercept for rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or psoriatic arthritis.
Biosimilars are next generation biologics that have been approved for use in Canada since 2009, and in arthritis since 2014. Fourteen biosimilars are currently approved by Health Canada with another 15 under review. Since the European Union (EU) approved the first biosimilar in 2006, the EU has approved 40 biosimilars.
“In my work leading Canada’s largest arthritis patient organization, I hear every day how patients like me are struggling to gain reimbursement for the medications their rheumatologist and patients feel they need. B.C. PharmaCare’s Biosimilars Initiative is a direct answer to this problem, clinically and financially,” says Cheryl Koehn, President of Arthritis Consumer Experts and person living with rheumatoid arthritis. “The initiative ensures continued reimbursement coverage for B.C. patients transitioned to the newer biologic, and ensures that reimbursement for other patients becomes available. This policy announcement shows how coverage for a few, turns into coverage for many. All of society benefits.”
The leading regulators in the world – including the European Medicines Agency, Food & Drug Administration in the U.S and Health Canada – support well-controlled transition. Patients need to know transition policy has been safely and effectively implemented over the past 10 years with thousands of patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gastrointestinal and bowel diseases in many countries in Europe with no compromise to patient safety, effectiveness or quality of care.
More than 100 research studies exist looking at patients who have successfully policy transitioned from a TNF inhibitor biologic originator to its TNF inhibitor biologic biosimilar and show no health differences between patients.
“We’ve learned so much about the biosimilar transition experience from our fellow inflammatory arthritis patients in Europe – thousands have been transitioned to the newer version of their biologic and good information was key to their success,” says Koehn. “All biologics – originators and biosimilars – are made in batches, and after the first batch of the originator is gone, every batch thereafter becomes its biosimilar. For example, I have been on two biologic originators over the past 17 years, and I’ve been transitioned multiple times, from batch to batch to batch, and the benefits and risks to me have remained the same. The same is true for biologic biosimilars: batches are produced following strict guidelines set out by Health Canada. The only difference is biosimilars are produced off-patent and are roughly half the cost of the originator.”
The most important thing for patients going through a transition is access to patient-friendly, science-based information to support their conversations with their health care team. Patients in BC can find good biosimilars information on the Arthritis Consumer Experts website, Biosim•Exchange http://bit.ly/BiosimExchangeEN.
Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) has been a leader in biosimilars discussions since 2009, sharing information with stakeholders across Canada through free research-based workshops, webinars and education programs. Drawing from this experience, ACE has created the Biosim•Exchange, an information hub for consumers to get the latest biosimilars news and background analysis. http://bit.ly/BiosimExchangeEN.
ACE has produced a special biosimilars education video series, where ACE speaks to medical experts on key patient questions around biosimilars and transitioning from originators to biosimilars: Go to https://biosim.jointhealth.org/resources and click on “Biosimilars education videos.”
ACE has recently published a new guide - “Biosimilars in Canada: What inflammatory arthritis patients need to know” - to address those needs of patients who want information on biosimilar medicines. It aims to provide answers to questions patients may have on biosimilars and provide them the information tools they need to power and support their conversations with their rheumatologists and other health care providers and ensure science-based continuity of care. Click here to view the Guide: https://jointhealth.org/pdfs/BiosimilarsInCanadaGuide_EN.pdf.
About Arthritis Consumer Experts
Arthritis Consumer Experts is a national organization that provides free, science-based information and education programs in both official languages to people with arthritis. ACE serves people living with all forms of arthritis by helping them take control of their disease and improve their quality of life through education and empowerment. Founded and led by people with arthritis, ACE also actively advocates on arthritis health and policy issues, through ACE’s JointHealth™ family of programs and the Arthritis Broadcast Network, directly to consumers/patients, healthcare professionals, media and government. ACE is guided by a strict set of guiding principles, set out by an advisory board comprised of leading scientists, medical professionals and informed arthritis consumers.
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For further information, please contact:
Vice President, Communications & Public Affairs
Arthritis Consumer Experts