Further to our post last week on British Columbia’s policy requiring “switching” patients taking Humira, the Alberta government has also implemented a policy, effective May 1, 2021, of requiring that patients over the age of 18 taking Humira switch to one of five adalimumab biosimilars approved by Health Canada: Amgevita, Hadlima, Hulio, Hyrimoz, and Idacio. These patients have until May 1, 2022, to switch to a biosimilar adalimumab; about 3,300 patients are expected to be impacted. According to Alberta Blue Cross, “Alberta spent more than $238 million in the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year on biologic drugs and these costs are increasing every year. Costs per patient for originator biologics can be more than $25,000 per patient per year, with biosimilar versions costing up to 50 per cent less than originator biologics.”
Alberta’s switching policy is an extension of its biosimilar initiatives, established in December 2019, to expand the use of biosimilar medicines under the province’s public drug plans. So far, patients in Alberta have been switched from Remicade (infliximab), Enbrel (etanercept), Lantus (insulin glargine), Neulasta (pegfilgrastim), Neupogen (filgrastim), and Rituxan (rituximab). Other provinces, including British Columbia and New Brunswick, have similar biosimilars switching policies.