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B.C.’s biosimilar initiative saves money, reinvests to expand drug coverage

June 14, 2024 at 7:31 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

People in B.C. continue to benefit from the Province’s biosimilars initiative as cost savings increase and are reinvested into BC PharmaCare to further improve access to drug coverage. 

“We are focused on reducing pharmaceutical costs to ensure people in B.C. have a sustainable health-care system now and in the future, and our biosimilar initiative continues to do just that,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Since our province led the country with the use of biosimilars in 2019, thousands of people have switched to a biosimilar, saving money and allowing us to expand our BC PharmaCare program and coverage further.” 

Over the first five years of the initiative, the Province saved $732 million, thanks to people transitioning from reference biologics to their cost-effective biosimilars, which are highly similar versions of high-cost biologic drugs used to treat health concerns, such as diabetes, inflammatory conditions and certain cancers. This includes more than $226 million in savings between 2023 and 2024. These savings continue to be reinvested into BC PharmaCare to improve and expand coverage of other drugs and medical devices.

This includes providing coverage for continuous and flash glucose monitors, improving access to inhalers for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, adding dapagliflozin as a regular benefit to treat Type 2 diabetes and heart failure, and expanding coverage of Trikafta to treat cystic fibrosis, as well as ADHD medications for patients older than 19.

Regulated by Health Canada, biosimilars have more than a decade of safety and efficacy. Since the implementation of B.C.’s Biosimilars Initiative in 2019, studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of patients switching to biosimilars in the province have confirmed the data behind biosimilars. B.C.’s Biosimilars Initiative: A Report on Patient and Financial Impact, which outlines the methods and outcomes of the biosimilar initiative, further confirms that biosimilars are cost-effective and maintain the integrity of patient outcomes.

Monitoring of effectiveness and safety, including physician visits, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and use of other medications have shown that people who switched from a reference biologic to a biosimilar had the same health outcomes as those who were on reference biologics in the past.

In 2019, BC PharmaCare led Canada in launching the biosimilars initiative. Since then, more than 40,000 people in B.C. have switched to a biosimilar and as of 2024, 11 jurisdictions in Canada have implemented similar biosimilar initiatives.

Learn More:

To read the Patient and Financial Impact report, visit:

To learn more about the 2019 biosimilar initiative, visit:

For more information about biosimilars, visit:

To learn more about BC PharmaCare, visit:

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