By the end of the week, the Ontario Drug Coverage (ODB) benefit will be swapping out some of its currently approved drugs for biosimilars that have been approved in Canada.

ODP covers upwards of five thousand medications for those under OHIP. The medications being switched include Copaxone®, Enbrel®, Humalog®, Humira®, Lantus®, NovoRapid®, Remicade®, and Rituxan® will be required to transition by December 29, 2023.

Though, the province does state that exemptions will be considered for patients in certain clinical circumstances on a case-by-case basis in consultation with their healthcare provider.

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. The European Union has been using biosimilar drugs for more than 15 years and Ontario is the eighth Canadian jurisdiction to expand the use of biosimilar medications.

Biosimilars are biological drugs that are similar to existing biological drugs that have already been approved for use in Canada. They are used to treat a variety of conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Biosimilars are often less expensive than their brand-name counterparts, which can make them a more affordable option for patients.

The Ontario government expects that the expanded use of biosimilars will save the province’s drug programs up to $100 million per year. This will help to ensure that Ontarians have access to the drugs they need, while also ensuring the sustainability of the province’s healthcare system.