British Columbia adds adalimumab to biosimilar switching programme

Biosimilars/General | Posted 16/04/2021 post-comment0 Post your comment

British Columbia (BC), the first province in Canada to switch patients to biosimilar drugs, has added adalimumab to its switching programme. Almost 6,000 patients will be transitioned from originator adalimumab (Humira) to one of five biosimilar versions.

Switching V19A17

BC was the first province in Canada to stop coverage of originator biologicals and switch patients to biosimilar versions. In 2019, the province began switching patients to biosimilars for etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade), inhibitors of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) used to treat inflammatory conditions, as well as insulin glargine [1]. Data released in 2020 showed that more than a quarter of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in BC had switched to a biosimilar as a result of the programme [2].

On 9 April 2021, the government of British Columbia announced expansion of the switching programme to include adalimumab, a TNF inhibitor indicated for the treatment of inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and IBD. Adalimumab has been sold under the brand name Humira by originator firm AbbVie and is the second top selling biological in Canada.

Between April and October 2021, almost 6,000 patients under PharmaCare, which provides access to prescription drugs for residents of BC, will be switched from Humira to an adalimumab biosimilar. Five adalimumab biosimilars will be available as part of the switching programme (Amgevita, Hadlima, Hulio, Hyrimoz and Idacio) for which pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) negotiations officially completed in January 2021.

According to Minister for Health in BC, Adrian Dix, switching patients to biosimilar adalimumab will save the province more than US$100 million over a period of three years. ‘This is in addition to savings from earlier phases of the programme that are being reinvested in our healthcare system. These savings have allowed us to expand coverage of treatments and add more drugs to our formulary to offer more affordable medications for British Columbians’, he said. PharmaCare spent approximately US$94 million on originator adalimumab between December 2019 and December 2020. Biosimilar versions are a fraction of this cost, being at least 40% cheaper.

In a further expansion of the switching programme, BC has added an extra indication for patients receiving etanercept treatment. Patients receiving etanercept for plaque psoriasis will now also be switched to a biosimilar version of the drug (Brenzys or Erelzi).

Mr Jim Keon, President of Biosimilars Canada, a national association representing Canada’s biosimilar industry, congratulated BC for supporting the increased use of biosimilars, adding: ‘The expansion of British Columbia’s biosimilar switching program demonstrates the province’s continued confidence in biosimilars as a way to manage costs and fund innovative new therapies while supporting positive patient outcomes’.

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Biosimilars of adalimumab


To further enhance the objectives of GaBI in sharing information and knowledge that ensure policies supportive of safe biosimilars use, we are pleased to announce that we will be launching a new section on GaBI Online and GaBI Journal, the ‘Latin American Forum’ (in Spanish) featuring the latest news and updates on research and developments in generic and biosimilar medicines in Latin America.

Register to receive the GaBI Latin American Forum newsletter. Inform colleagues and friends of this new initiative.



Para fomentar los objetivos de GaBI sobre la difusión de información y conocimiento sobre las políticas de apoyo que garantizan el uso seguro de medicamentos biosimilares, nos complace anunciar el lanzamiento de una nueva sección en GaBI Online y GaBI Journal, el ‘Latin American Forum’ (en español), que presentará las últimas noticias y actualizaciones en investigación y desarrollo sobre medicamentos genéricos y biosimilares en Latinoamérica.

Regístrese para recibir el boletín informativo GaBI Latin American Forum. Informe a colegas y amigos sobre esta nueva iniciativa. 

1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Canada’s British Columbia to switch patients to biosimilars []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 Apr 16]. Available from: 
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. British Columbia releases latest data on biosimilar switches []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2021 Apr 16]. Available from:

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Source: Government of British Columbia; pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance

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