There is a lot of talk these days about Biosimilars. Biologics have been in the news and certainly in our awareness for the last several years, as the cost of these drugs is significant. The clinical outcome for Biologics is superior for most conditions which has helped these drugs gain a real foothold in the prescription drug space. So, what then is a Biosimilar? First it might help to understand what a Biologic is. These drugs are not a formula as so many prescription drugs are. A + B + C = end result. A Biologic is “grown” with a certain “starter” and then under strict laboratory standards, to arrive at a final product, a Biologic drug. These Biologics cannot be duplicated in the same way as a generic drug, since the laboratory process and starter cannot be exactly duplicated.
Enter Biologics: This class of drug competes against the brand name by following a similar process to arrive at an end product that will treat the same condition with a positive clinical outcome. Just like generic drugs, Biosimilars offer significant savings. The Alberta Government is rolling out a Biosimilar initiative in 2021, and we expect insurers to follow suit. Here is a link to the information from the Alberta Health website. https://www.alberta.ca/biosimilar-drugs.aspx
We will be watching this closely, as the threat to financial viability of benefit plans is significant given the cost of Biologics. Will Biosimilars offer the financial relief we are looking for? Time will tell.