The Ministry of Health in Saskatchewan recently announced a new drug policy for residents who access medications through a publicly funded program. By April 20, 2023, people who use a biologic drug will need to switch to a biosimilar if one is available. For people living with diabetes, this applies to those using insulin aspart (NovoRapid), insulin lispro (Humalog), and insulin glargine (Lantus).
“Diabetes Canada acknowledges that biosimilar insulins offer additional treatment choices for people living with diabetes, and we also believe that the decision to use a biologic drug or biosimilar insulin must be made jointly by people living with diabetes and their health care providers, not by governments,” says Joan King, Director of Government Affairs with Diabetes Canada. “Provinces need to establish comprehensive diabetes strategies to address the grim trajectory of increasing prevalence and cost of diabetes rather than developing one-off cost saving policies that do not improve the care of people living with diabetes,” says King.
Biosimilars are defined by Health Canada to be a biologic drug that is highly similar to a biologic drug that was already authorized for sale.
Recommendations for governments and private insurers from Diabetes Canada’s policy position (published in 2019) include:
- Do not implement forced non-medical switching policies that require patients established on treatment to switch from a reference biologic drug to a biosimilar insulin.
- Provide sufficient information and support to patients and request informed consent to switch from a biologic drug to a biosimilar insulin.
- Allow patients who do not wish to switch, the opportunity to continue on established therapy as per the decision made jointly between a patient and health care provider.
- Swiftly and diligently respond to submissions requesting an exceptional Special Authority authorization, as to not delay patients’ access to therapy based on their personal circumstances and needs. In the case of a claim rejection letter, an explanatory statement must be provided for an exceptional Special Authority denial.
- Perform ongoing post-market surveillance and safety reporting of biosimilar insulins to establish long-term safety and efficacy profiles in the post-marketing phase.
Diabetes Canada is encouraging governments to fund and implement a diabetes framework that will help improve the lives of people with diabetes, reduce the growing burden on the health-care system, and help inform these types of decisions.
Category Tags: Advocacy & Policy;
About Diabetes Canada
A world free of the effects of diabetes is our vision. That’s why we’re working together to improve the quality of life of people living with diabetes. We’re sharing knowledge and creating connections for individuals and the health-care professionals who care for them; advocating through public policy; and funding research to improve treatments and find a cure to end diabetes.