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Saskatchewan Biosimilars Initiative

The Saskatchewan Biosimilars Initiative was announced on October 20, 2022, to improve the uptake of biosimilar drugs.

Biosimilars present a significant opportunity for cost savings and health system sustainability while providing safe and effective medication options. The Biosimilars Initiative will support patient access to public drug coverage and new drug benefits.

The Biosimilars Initiative means that patients will be covered for a biosimilar version of their biologic medication where one is available.

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1. Transitioning to a Biosimilar

By April 30, 2023: Patients already using a reference biologic (or “originator” biologic) with an available biosimilar version will need to start using a biosimilar version of their medication in order to keep their coverage under the Saskatchewan Drug Plan.

  • The transition period from now until April 30, 2023, allows time for patients to talk to their health care provider and get a new prescription for the biosimilar.
  • Patients who are already receiving coverage through the Drug Plan for a reference biologic and need to start using a biosimilar by April 30, 2023, will receive a letter from the Saskatchewan Drug Plan.
  • After the transition period, the Saskatchewan Drug Plan will no longer cover the reference biologic drug.
Beginning the week of January 3, 2023, letters were mailed to affected patients using the following reference biologic drugs:
Humira® (adalimumab) Lovenox® (enoxaparin) Enbrel® (etanercept)
Copaxone® (glatiramer) Remicade® (infliximab) Rituxan® (rituximab)
Neupogen® (filgrastim)*
   

This information will be updated as letters are mailed to affected patients using other reference biologic drugs included in the Saskatchewan Biosimilars Initiative.  *No letters were mailed for Neupogen® (filgrastim) as there are no affected patients.

You may be affected by this policy if:

  1. You are starting or you are already using a reference biologic drug on the list of drugs affected.
    AND
  2. You receive Saskatchewan Drug Plan coverage for this medication.

To start using a biosimilar medication, you should:

  • Check the list of drugs affected to see if you may need to use a biosimilar to be eligible for Saskatchewan Drug Plan coverage
  • Follow up with the health care provider who prescribes your reference biologic at your next scheduled appointment. Contact their office if you do not have an appointment booked before April 30, 2023.
  • Get a new prescription for a biosimilar version of your medication (a new prescription is required to start the biosimilar at your pharmacy or clinic)
  • Discuss your questions about biosimilars with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist

In some cases, you may have the option to enrol in a biosimilar patient support program. Your health care provider can help you with this.

If you also receive medication coverage from a third-party insurance provider (such as a benefits plan through your employer):

  • Your insurance provider may coordinate your benefits with the Saskatchewan Drug Plan.
  • Contact your private insurance provider with questions about your private drug coverage benefits.

Exemptions: Some patients may need to continue using the reference biologic for medical reasons. Exemptions to the Saskatchewan Biosimilars Initiative policy may be considered for an individual patient to continue their Saskatchewan Drug Plan coverage of a reference biologic. Prescribers can submit a request and clinical information for an individual patient. The Exemption Request Form can be found in the Prescriber Forms section.

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2. List of Drugs Affected

The List of drugs affected outlines the biologic drugs currently included in the Biosimilars Initiative. The Biosimilars Initiative will also apply to future reference biologics as new biosimilars are launched and listed on the Saskatchewan Formulary. Prescribers and patients will be notified of these changes in the future.

Drug Name Reference biologic brand name (switch from) Biosimilar brand name (switch to) Health conditions End of transition period
Adalimumab Humira® Abrilada®
Amgevita™
Hadlima®
Hulio®
Hyrimoz®
Idacio®
Simlandi™
Yuflyma™
Auto-immune conditions, including:
Ankylosing spondylitis
Crohn's disease
Hidradenitis suppurativa
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
Plaque psoriasis
Psoriatic arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Ulcerative colitis
Uveitis
April 30, 2023
Enoxaparin
Lovenox®
Inclunox®
Noromby®
Redesca™
Prevention and treatment of venous thromboembolic events
April 30, 2023
Etanercept Enbrel®
Brenzys®
Erelzi®
Auto-immune conditions, including:
Ankylosing spondylitis
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
Plaque psoriasis
Psoriatic arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
April 30, 2023
Filgrastim Neupogen® Grastofil®
Nivestym™
Low white blood cell count (non-cancer) April 30, 2023
Glatiramer
(a non-biologic complex drug)
Copaxone® Glatect™ Multiple sclerosis April 30, 2023
Infliximab Remicade® Avsola™
Inflectra®
Renflexis™
Auto-immune conditions, including:
Ankylosing spondylitis
Crohn’s disease
Plaque psoriasis
Psoriatic arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Ulcerative colitis
April 30, 2023
Insulin aspart NovoRapid® * (cartridge) Trurapi® Diabetes April 30, 2023
Insulin glargine Lantus® * (cartridge, pre-filled pens) Basaglar™ Diabetes April 30, 2023
Insulin lispro Humalog® Admelog® Diabetes Paused **
Rituximab Rituxan® Riximyo®
Ruxience™
Truxima™
Auto-immune conditions listed in Appendix A of the Saskatchewan Formulary April 30, 2023

*NovoRapid® and Lantus® vials will remain covered at this time, until biosimilar(s) in a vial format are listed on the Saskatchewan Formulary. Coverage of NovoRapid® will continue to be available for patients who use insulin pumps while the biosimilar(s) undergo insulin pump certification. 

**The transition for Humalog® is paused until further notice, until supply of the biosimilar (Admelog®) has stabilized and demand for Saskatchewan can be met.

Please note that patients will continue to be able to access Saskatchewan Drug Plan coverage of their reference biologic medication if a suitable biosimilar format is not available.

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3. Biologic and Biosimilar Drugs

Biologic drugs are made from living organisms or their cells. They differ from most other drugs in that they are not made by chemicals. Biologic drugs include hormones, blood products, antibodies, genes and vaccines. Biologics treat many different diseases, including Crohn’s and colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

A reference biologic or “originator” drug is the first version of a biologic drug to be made.

Biosimilar drugs are the next versions of the biologic drug to be made after the reference biologic’s patent expires. Patients and health care professionals can be confident that biosimilars are effective and safe as reference biologics.

  • Biosimilars work in the same way as the reference biologic, but are less expensive.
  • Patients can expect the same results from biosimilars as the reference biologic they are familiar with.

Biosimilars are regulated and monitored by Health Canada. Clinical studies show that biosimilars have the same efficacy and safety as the reference biologic drug.

Several public drug plans across Canada, including Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and the Northwest Territories, have already implemented similar policies to increase uptake of biosimilar drugs. Several countries have also implemented policies to encourage the use and transition to biosimilars.

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4. Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ
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5. Patient Support Programs

Note: Patient Support Program information has been provided to the Saskatchewan Drug Plan by the manufacturers and may not be available for all biologic products. Infusion clinic locations have been confirmed by each manufacturer and their respective Patient Support Program. Patients may be able to receive their medication at other locations. Please contact the Patient Support Program or drug manufacturer directly for more information, or if you have questions about these services.

Patient Support Programs and Infusion Clinics

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6. Prescriber Forms

Patient List Request Form

Exemption Request Form

Having trouble loading the application forms?

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Select "save target as";
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7. Resources and Studies

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8. Contact Us

Patients should contact their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist with questions about their treatment or about biosimilar medications.

medSask is a drug information service available to support patients and health care providers with questions about their biologic drug treatment.

For general questions about the Saskatchewan Biosimilars Initiative, please contact the Saskatchewan Drug Plan by email: sk.biosimilars@health.gov.sk.ca or call 1-800-667-2549 (306-787-8744 in Regina), option #3.

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