Information Bulletin: B.C. Pharmacare Expands Use of Biosimilars
On May 27, 2019, the B.C. Ministry of Health announced that the B.C. Fair Pharmacare Program (“Pharmacare”) will expand its use of biosimilar drugs currently prescribed to treat diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. A six-month transition window has been established during which patients can switch from their current treatment to the less costly biosimilar option. After November 25, 2019, Enbrel ®, Remicade ®, and Lantus ® for select indications will not be covered by Pharmacare.
The changes are expected to generate significant cost savings for the province, which is now the first jurisdiction in Canada to incorporate biosimilars into a public plan in this manner. Refer to B.C. expands use of biosimilars to offer coverage for more treatment (Ministry of Health, May 27, 2019) for an overview of program changes.
During the transition period, which runs from May 27 - November 25, 2019, PharmaCare will cover both originator and biosimilar versions of the affected drugs to allow patients time to inform themselves and start the switching process with their prescriber. Effective November 26, 2019, PharmaCare will only cover the biosimilar versions of the drugs listed above for the affected indications.
Aon is actively analyzing the potential impact of this announcement; in particular, the position of insurance carriers with respect to the integration of Pharmacare and privately insured drug plans. Updates will be provided as we learn more about how plan sponsors and carriers will react to Pharmacare program modifications.