New Canadian Forum Calls for Better Access to Biosimilar Medicines to Improve Health Care

TORONTO, Oct. 11, 2016 /CNW/ - A new Canadian alliance of drug manufacturers – the Canadian Biosimilars Forum -- issued a call today to both policy makers and health system leaders to embrace the opportunity that biosimilars represent to both patients and to Canadian health care.  

"The introduction of biosimilars has the potential to provide additional treatment options for physicians and patients," said Nadia Turchetta, Executive Director, Biopharmaceuticals at Sandoz Canada and one of the Forum's three co-chairs.  "Biosimilars offer direct benefits to patients while at the same time providing sustained cost reductions to the health care system."

Biosimilars can play a significant role in the Canadian health care system once the market exclusivity of the originator product has ended, since it is part of the natural evolution of the industry that when market exclusivity ends, lower-cost alternatives become available.

The Canadian Biosimilars Forum was recently established by eight of the leading companies in this field, representing the breadth of the industry's diversity.  The Forum unites companies that have been traditionally seen as "innovator" and "generic," each committed to working together to improve access to biosimilar medicines for the benefit of patients. 

"Having such a broad range of biosimilars manufacturers around the table is very significant," said Jennifer Chan, Vice President of Policy and Communications at Merck Canada. "The fact that such a wide range of companies came together on this issue so quickly demonstrates just how important biosimilars are to the sustainability of our Canadian health system."

"The Forum believes that achieving a long-term, sustainable and competitive market should be the overarching goal of every biosimilars stakeholder, not just manufacturers," said John Snowden, Director, Biosimilars at Amgen Canada and Forum co-chair.  "We've come together as a group of manufacturers to help expand patient access to these medications, while supporting health system sustainability and fostering a viable biosimilars industry in Canada."


About the Canadian Biosimilars Forum
The Canadian Biosimilars Forum is an alliance of eight companies who represent the breadth of the biosimilars industry and who came together to maximize the positive impact of biosimilars on patients, on health systems and on the biosimilars industry itself.  The Forum today encompasses Amgen, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Coherus, EMD Serono, Merck, Pfizer, Sandoz and Teva.

The Forum is focused on accomplishing three fundamental goals.  First, providing evidence-based information to inform and support public policies that encourage access, awareness and adoption of biosimilars.  Second, raising awareness of biosimilars – and their distinctiveness – and serving as a credible resource for timely and unbiased information regarding biosimilars.  Third, providing an opportunity for companies developing biosimilars for the Canadian market to work together and with other key stakeholders on topics instrumental to biosimilars and patient care.

What are biologics?
Biologics are biological medicines that are produced by living organisms and can include proteins, sugars, or nucleic acids.  This is different than most medicines available today which are chemically synthesized drugs.  These synthesized medicines are sometimes known as "small molecule" while biologic medicines are sometimes referred to as "large molecule."

Biologic medicines are typically derived from living cells and used in the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of disease.  Biologic medicines include therapeutic proteins, DNA vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and fusion proteins.  Biologic medicines are often 200 to 1,000 times the size of a small-molecule drug and are far more complex structurally.

Over the past 30 years, biologic medicines have provided treatment options for people who suffer from some of the most serious medical conditions.  Diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis can now be treated fare more effectively than in the past.

What are biosimilars?
A biosimilar medicine is a biologic that has been approved by Health Canada after a rigorous and evidence-based review process.  Health Canada requires every biosimilar to demonstrate its similarity to the reference biologic drug.  The biological activity of the biosimilar is considered to be representative of the mechanism of action and pharmacological effect of the reference product.  Data required by Health Canada to support market authorization of biosimilars includes quality (chemistry and manufacturing), non-clinical (pharmacology and toxicology), and clinical (pharmacology, safety and efficacy) information.  Since biosimilars are a new treatment option for Canadian healthcare professionals and patients, experience and evidence regarding their efficacy and safety is growing

SOURCE Canadian Biosimilars Forum

For further information: Media Contact: Keltie Gale, Canadian Biosimilars Forum, 416-613-5052

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