Oncology biosimilars are entering the Canadian market. BC Cancer is preparing for their availability for cancer patients in British Columbia.
BC Cancer will be implementing biosimilars in fall 2019, starting with bevacizumab biosimilar in new gastrointestinal, gynecological, central nervous system, and sarcoma patients. Trastuzumab and rituximab biosimilars are anticipated to be available in spring 2020.
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. Health Canada has approved biosimilar treatments for many diseases including arthritis, diabetes and cancer.
Biosimilars are as safe and effective (work just as well) as the reference biologic drug, and work the same way as the reference biologic drug.
Health Canada has strict rules that companies must follow when making and testing a biosimilar. 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 contains 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: