Information and resources on biosimilar drugs for patients.
Oncology biosimilars have entered the Canadian market. BC Cancer implemented biosimilars in Fall 2019, starting with bevacizumab biosimilar in gastrointestinal, gynecological, central nervous system, and sarcoma cancers. Trastuzumab biosimilar was introduced at BC Cancer in late Winter 2020 in breast and gastrointestinal cancers. BC Cancer is implementing rituximab biosimilar in lymphoma and leukemia patients in August 2020.
What is a biosimilar?
A biosimilar is a biologic medicine (a medicine made inside of a living cell) that works the same as the original brand name biologic drug (reference biologic).
Biosimilars have been used in Canada since 2009 for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. More recently, Health Canada has approved biosimilar medicines for even more conditions, including diabetes and cancer.
Biosimilars are as safe and effective (work just as well) as their reference biologic drugs. They work in the same way.
Health Canada has strict rules that companies must follow when making and testing biosimilars. All biosimilars used in Canada must meet the same high standards as reference biologics.
Using biosimilars will save money for our cancer system. The money we save can be used to pay for new cancer treatments.
No. Your care will be the same whether you take a reference biologic drug or a biosimilar.
You should expect to have the same results and the same side effects.
If you have any problems while taking biosimilars, talk to your health care team right away.
No changes to your existing treatment will be made without talking to you.
If you are starting a new treatment and would like to know whether this includes a biosimilar, please ask your oncologist, nurse or pharmacist.
Talk to your oncologist, nurse or pharmacist if you have questions about biosimilars.
The following links also provide more information about biosimilars: