On September 30th, the Generics and Biosimilars Initiative published GaBI Journal, Volume 10, 2021, Issue 3, containing a new whitepaper by ASBM Executive Director Michael Reilly and Advisory Board Chair Philip Schneider.

The paper is entitled A Critical Review of Substitution Policy for Biosimilars in Canada” and highlights the stark contrast between the forced-substitution policies recently enacted by some Canadian provinces and the pro-competition policies which have proven successful in driving biosimilar uptake in Europe and the U.S. From the paper:

Successful biosimilar markets in the EU and US have demonstrated that forced medical switching is unnecessary to achieve high uptake of biosimilars and the associated savings...This fosters a robust and sustainable biosimilar market with multiple suppliers in any given product class.

Canada desires a robust biosimilar market share like that observed in Europe. While there may be short-term savings from non-medical switching, a long-term consequence of this policy may be decreased competition resulting from fewer products launches and a negative impact on patient safety. Potential drug shortage issues may develop in the absence of multiple suppliers of biologics in each product class. There would also be likely be an undermining the confidence of both physicians and patients in biosimilars that creates an additional barrier to biosimilar uptake.

The successful uptake of biosimilars in Europe was accomplished by limiting the choice of biologic or forced non-medical switching, but through preserving choice for physicians and patients and by promoting competition among all products approved by regulatory authorities. To foster its success in creating a sustainable biosimilars market, Canadian payers can learn from the lessons learned in more mature markets and implement evidence-based transition policies that consider patients’ needs primary.

Read GaBI Journal, Volume 10, 2021, Issue 3 online here.