In a letter dated June 18, the Canada-based Biosimilar Working Group (BWG) urged the Canadian province of Manitoba to reject the forced-substitution policies some provinces are implementing to increase biosimilar uptake. The letter was addressed to Cameron Friesen, Manitoba’s Minister of Health, Seniors, and Active Living.

From the letter:


We have concerns regarding implementation of any policies that would switch patients stable on an originator biologic medication to its biosimilar. We have strong medical reasons and unaddressed issues that underpin our thoughts and conclusions.


In your upcoming deliberations, we request full consultations with patient groups before you reach any conclusions. This way, policy can be forged in a manner that keeps Canadians safe, especially during this current pandemic and beyond. There can be no one-size-fits-all approach and developing policy with fulsome input from those who will be directly impacted will help achieve the desired outcomes effectively.


A recent report from INESSS, the Quebec health technology assessment body, concludes that there are certain populations on biologics for which very little or no data are available regarding the safety of biologics switching, and identifies significant concerns that clinicians have about non-medical switching. Most of the available scientific data have methodological limitations and raise significant uncertainties. Therefore, conducting adequate clinical studies with a larger number of individuals from these populations and greater homogeneity in the participants’ baseline characteristics would be useful for better determining the impact of switching between biologics.
The Biosimilars Working Group, of which ASBM is a member, is a key collaboration of diverse non-profit organizations, registered health charities, and healthcare advocacy coalitions who are dedicated to ensuring that good outcomes for patients are at the centre of health policy in Canada, specifically in the biologic medication treatment areas.

Read the full letter here.

Learn more about the Biosimilars Working Group here.