Important dates for Arthritis and Diabetes Patients as BC is switching to ‘biosimilar’ drugs

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Important dates for Arthritis and Diabetes Patients as BC is switching to ‘biosimilar’ drugs

Recognizing that the evidence shows that biosimilars are just as safe and effective as their originator biologic counterparts, the British Columbia government announced on May 27, 2019, that BC PharmaCare is requiring that patients taking three biologic drugs – Enbrel®, Remicade®, and Lantus® – transition to biosimilars.

The British Columbia health ministry’s goal is to improve the sustainability of the PharmaCare program and reduce costs – the shift to biosimilars is expected to save $96M over the first three years – as well as use the savings to add other new and/or expensive drugs to the PharmaCare formulary.

“Plan members have until
November 25,2019
to consult their physician
and change prescriptions
to applicable biosimilar.”

It is a Two Phase Transition

***Patients using Enbrel for plaque psoriasis are not affected at this time.

  • Rheumatology patients will transition from Enbrel to
    the biosimilar Brenzys® or Erelzi™
  • Dermatology and rheumatology patients will
    transition from Remicade to the biosimilar Inflectra®
    or Renflexis®
  • Endocrinology patients will transition from Lantus to
    the biosimilar Basaglar™


Patients have until November 25, 2019, to consult with their physicians to change their prescriptions to the applicable biosimilar. After that, PharmaCare will no longer provide coverage for these originator biologics for the affected indications, except in exceptional situations.

What does this mean for plan members in BC?

By November 25, 2019, all plan members in British Columbia taking originator drugs for the listed conditions will be transitioned to the corresponding biosimilar in accordance with provincial coordination policies.

If the drug is a BC Special Authority medication, the plan member will simply need a new prescription from their physician – they do not need to reapply for Special Authority. In addition, if PharmaCare grants an exception to allow someone to remain on the originator, your insurance company will likely follow suit, and pay for the originator as well.

This is what the Biosimilar Transition Program will look like in BC

Have Questions Regarding Your Health & Dental Plan?

Get in Touch With Your Representative

Leanne MacKinnon
Manager – Client Services

Mina Joyce
Group Benefits Coordinator

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