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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
|Drug||Originator (switch from)||Biosimilar (switch to)||Conditions (if applicable)|
adult ulcerative colitis
polyarticular juvenile Idiopathic arthritis
polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis
The policy will apply to other medications on the Nova Scotia Formulary as new biosimilar medications are approved.
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.