News | December 20, 2022

Ontario Expanding Safe Use Of Biosimilars

Transitioning to biosimilars will allow province to invest in and improve access to medicines

Ontario is joining several other provinces and territories by expanding the use of biosimilar drug treatments for Ontarians. Starting March 31, 2023, Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) recipients who are on an originator biologic will begin to transition to a Health Canada approved biosimilar version of the drug at no cost.

“Ontario is joining other provinces and territories in the country by expanding the use of safe and effective biosimilar drugs,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Patients will continue receiving the same high-quality treatment, while allowing the government to fund more new drug therapies, bring innovation to the health care system and continue its work to deliver better, connected patient care.”

Patients and health care providers can be confident that the quality, safety and patient benefits of the biosimilar are highly similar to the biologic drug. Biosimilars undergo the same robust and rigorous approval process by Health Canada and to be approved in Canada, a biosimilar must be proven to be highly similar, with no clinically meaningful differences in terms of safety and efficacy.

Ontarians receiving coverage under the ODB program for Copaxone, Enbrel, Humalog, Humira, Lantus, NovoRapid, Remicade, and Rituxan, will be required to transition to the biosimilar version by December 29, 2023. During the transition period between March 31 and December 29, 2023, patients are encouraged to discuss a transition plan with their health care provider through in-person, telephone or virtual visits. Exemptions will be considered for patients in certain clinical circumstances on a case-by-case basis in consultation with their health care provider.

Ahead of the transition period starting on March 31, 2023, the ministry will continue to work with partners, including physicians, pharmacists and manufacturers, to ensure a smooth and successful transition. This switch will allow Ontario to invest more in new and innovative drug treatments and continue to grow the roster of publicly funded life saving drugs.

Quick Facts

  • Biosimilars have been used in the European Union for more than 15 years and Ontario is the eighth Canadian jurisdiction to expand the use of biosimilar medications, following British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick, Quebec, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan.
  • Biologics are drugs made with living organisms (e.g., yeast or animal cells), rather than being synthetically manufactured, and are often used to treat patients with chronic health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and diabetes. An originator biologic is the first version of a biologic drug.
  • Biosimilars are biologic drugs that enter the market after the patents or data protection rights for the originator biologic expire, have similar effectiveness, safety, and quality as the originator biologic and have been approved for use in Canada by Health Canada.

Source: King's Printer for Ontario