The British Columbia government says it’s expanding its substitute drug program to include 1,700 patients with diseases such as Crohn’s and colitis.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says biosimilars, which are cheaper alternatives to name-brand drugs, have worked well in other countries and the province will be saving about $96.6 million to be put back into health care over three years.
Biosimilars are highly similar versions of bioengineered drugs known as biologics, and there are 17 such products approved for sale in Canada.
Bioengineered medicine is the single biggest expense for public drug plans; in 2018, B.C. spent $125 million to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
In January, the province made a three-year, $105-million investment to help low-income British Columbians get access to the drugs.
The initial program announced in May saw over 20,000 British Columbians move their prescription from the biologic to biosimilar drugs.