Evaluating the safety and efficacy of biosimilars to help shape future health policies


June 17, 2020 (Vancouver, BC) – Biosimilars are considered to be a safe and effective alternative to the original biologics medications in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). While biologics have provided major advances to the treatment for the aforementioned types of arthritis, their significant cost is a major barrier to their use. These biologics have become the most expensive drug class in health care budgets. In B.C. alone, biologics used for 10,000 British Columbians with RA, PsA and AS accounted for $125 million in health care costs for 2019.

As patents on biologics come to the end of their term, companies making biosimilars are providing a less expensive alternative. Despite studies that have shown biosimilars have the same effectiveness and safety as the original drugs, patients and clinicians have expressed concerned as to whether the biosimilars are truly the same. For this reason, further study of their use in real-life clinical care settings, over longer periods of time, and with larger groups of patients is much needed.

Arthritis Research Canada has just received funding to conduct this important research into biosimilars. The study being led by Arthritis Research Canada’s Associate Scientific Director, Dr. Diane Lacaille, will provide the ability to evaluate the comparative safety, effectiveness and amount of time spent on medication for biosimilars vs. original biologic medications. The study will observe all patients with RA, PsA and AS in British Columbia, using real life data on clinical care from the Ministry of Health (MoH) until December 2020.

“With the original drugs coming to the end of their patent, these less expensive alternatives provide opportunities for more sustainable health care budgets and for funding new drugs coming into the market,” said Dr. Lacaille.

“As the first province to implement a biosimilar policy in November 2019, British Columbia has plans for additional inclusion of rheumatology drugs and other fields of medicine. The findings from this research will provide invaluable feedback to the BC Ministry of Health, as well as to healthcare professionals, patients, the general public, and other provinces that are considering adopting a similar policy,” Lacaille continued.

Arthritis Research Canada gratefully acknowledges the Canadian Initiative for Outcomes in Rheumatology Care (CIORA) of the Canadian Rheumatology Association for providing the funding for this study.




Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Led by world-renowned rheumatologist, Dr. John Esdaile, Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific team of over 100 are creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Within British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis, new and better treatment, and improved quality of life.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:  

Marketing & Communications
Arthritis Research Canada
604-207-4010 or mc@arthritisresearch.ca

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