Information for Patients about the Nova Scotia Biosimilar Initiative

Nova Scotia Pharmacare

Information for Patients about the Nova Scotia Biosimilar Initiative

The Government of Nova Scotia is expanding the use of biosimilar medications in Nova Scotia Pharmacare programs. Patients covered under Pharmacare will need to switch to a biosimilar version of their prescribed medication to retain coverage.

Switching to biosimilars

Starting 3 February 2023 some brands of biologic medications won’t be covered by Pharmacare if a biosimilar version is approved and available, unless an exemption is granted (patients have until February 2023 to switch to a biosimilar version of their prescribed medication).

To switch to a biosimilar medication, you need to:

  • check the list of medications that require switching to biosimilars
  • contact your prescriber (like a doctor, nurse or healthcare provider) if your prescribed medication is on the list of medications that require switching
  • get a new prescription for the biosimilar medication from your prescriber
  • enroll in financial or clinical biosimilar patient assistance programs if necessary (your prescriber can direct you to these programs)

Exemptions

Your prescriber can apply for an exemption for clinical reasons. If this exemption is not approved or if you don’t qualify for an exemption, coverage of the original biologic medication will end.

Pharmacare coverage

Your prescriber doesn’t need to apply for Pharmacare coverage for a biosimilar medication. If an original biologic medication is already prescribed, coverage for the biosimilar medication is approved. Coverage doesn’t require annual exception status renewal.

If you have another insurer and Pharmacare only pays for a portion of your prescription, you still need to switch to a biosimilar to retain Pharmacare coverage.

Contact your insurer for details about your coverage.

What are biosimilars?

Biosimilars are very similar, less expensive versions of original biologic medications. Biosimilars aren’t an exact copy of the original biologic medication, but they are as safe and effective. Any differences between biosimilars and original medications are not significant.

Biosimilars are less expensive than original biologic medications because market competition grows as more companies manufacture the medication, which helps to reduce its cost. 

Health Canada has very strict requirements for the approval of biosimilars.

Medications that require switching to biosimilars

Drug Originator (switch from) Biosimilar (switch to) Conditions (if applicable)
Adalimumab Humira®

Abrilada®
Amgevita™
Hadlima®
Hulio®
Hyrimoz®
Idacio®
Simlandi™

ankylosing spondylitis
plaque psoriasis
psoriatic arthritis
rheumatoid arthritis
Crohn's disease
adult ulcerative colitis
polyarticular juvenile Idiopathic arthritis
hidradenitis suppurativa
non-infectious uveitis
Etanercept Enbrel® Brenzys®
Erelzi®
ankylosing spondylitis
plaque psoriasis
psoriatic arthritis
polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis
rheumatoid arthritis
Infliximab Remicade® Avsola™
Inflectra®
Renflexis™
ankylosing spondylitis
plaque psoriasis
psoriatic arthritis
rheumatoid arthritis
Crohn's disease
ulcerative colitis

Insulin glargine Lantus®

Basaglar™

diabetes

Insulin lispro Humalog®

Admelog® diabetes
Insulin aspart NovoRapid® Trurapi® diabetes
Rituximab Rituxan®

Riximyo®
Ruxience™
Truxima™
rheumatoid arthritis
vasculitis
auto-immune diseases

 

The policy will apply to other medications on the Nova Scotia Formulary as new biosimilar medications are approved.

Resources

Patient support groups and health care agencies provide information for patients who are switching to biosimilar medications. To learn more about these groups, contact your prescriber.

Contact information

Pharmacare office
Toll-free phone: 1-800-563-8880 
Phone: 902-496-7008
Email: msi@medavie.ca
Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm