On December 20, 2022, the government of Ontario announced a new policy to expand the use of biosimilar drugs in the province. Patients receiving coverage under the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program for eight originator biologic drugs will be required to transition to the biosimilar version by December 29, 2023.
During the transition period from March 31 to December 29, 2023, the government is encouraging patients to discuss a transition plan with their health care provider (HCP). Exemptions will be considered for patients in certain clinical circumstances on a case-by-case basis in consultation with their HCP.
- Biologic drugs are large, complex molecules that are typically made in living organisms (e.g., animal cells), rather than being made synthetically. An originator biologic is the first version of a biologic drug. Biosimilar drugs are subsequent-entry biologics which often enter the market after the patent or data protection rights for the originator biologic have expired. Health Canada approves biosimilars based on their similarity to a reference biologic drug (e.g., the originator biologic).
- The ODB program covers most of the cost of approximately 5,000 prescription drug products. Ontario residents who qualify for the ODB program include those who are 65 years old or older, receive public income support (e.g., Ontario Disability Support Program), or meet other criteria.
- Ontario is the eighth jurisdiction in Canada to expand the use of biosimilar drugs, following British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick, Quebec, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan.
December 20, 2022 News Release, “Ontario Expanding Safe Use of Biosimilars”