The undisputed leader in biosimilars with more than 60 products approved and the largest biosimilar market in the world, Europe has achieved impressive biosimilar uptake rates. These can be as high as 91% for older products (before the approval of the first monoclonal antibody biosimilar in 2013) and up to 43% for newer products (approved post-2013). As Canadian provinces including British Columbia and Alberta look to duplicate Europe’s success, ASBM has prepared the following fact sheet to serve as a resource.
The fact sheet contrasts the principles that Europe has embraced- which include preserving physician/patient choice, promoting competition between multiple products, and prohibiting automatic substitution- with the forced-switching policy announced by the government of British Columbia:
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix cited Europe’s high biosimilar uptake rates as a justification for the [forced-switching] policy, but disregards the path and principles that led to this success.
It was not accomplished through a reimbursement ban on originator biologics, i.e., the limitation of medicine choice and resulting forced switching mandates, but through preserving choice for physicians and patient and promoting ongoing competition between all approved products based on many factors including cost, clinical evidence, delivery mechanism, patient history, and other factors.
Not only does the B.C policy have no analogue among Western European countries, it is built upon principles Europe has overwhelmingly rejected.
The fact sheet also reflects concerns raised with the BC policy by Canadian physicians and patient advocates, and cites data from ASBM’s 2017 survey of Canadian physicians, showing strong opposition to the third-party switching of stable patients for non-medical (e.g. cost) reasons.