The Globe and Mail has reported that Ontario is prepared to implement a biologic and biosimilar mandatory switching policy following leaders like British Columbia, New Brunswick, Alberta, Saskatchewan and PEI. The new strategy is expected to take place on March 31, 2023 and phase in over the year.
So what does this mean to you and your employees? Biosimilars are similar (but not the same) as generic drugs and have a reduced cost compared to the Biologic drug they replace. The costs of the drugs themselves are in the tens of thousands of dollars a year, so the savings can be significant and anywhere from 17 to 50% off the comparator drug.
Once this program goes into place, those that use the Ontario Drug Benefit plan (ODB), such as; seniors, those on Ontario Works, or the Trillium Drug Benefit will be made to switch to the cheaper biosimilar drug (unless there is a medical reason not to). Most employee benefit plans will mirror that change (Green Shields has been for years already), requiring the employee to change. This will help control the costs paid by the employer (and often shared with the employee). Expect to see more on this in the coming year.
“Under the new policy, there will be a nine-month transition period that is set to start March 31. That will allow patients time to have discussions with their care providers about what the changes mean, as well as their options. Certain patients will be exempt from mandatory switching, such as those who are pregnant and people with certain types of cancer, the government official said.”