February 28, 2023
TORONTO, ONTARIO – Physicians and their patients- and not a government – should choose which biologic medicine to use, according to a new survey of Canadian ophthalmologists by the Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines (ASBM) and the International Foundation on Ageing (IFA).
In the week before the 2022 holiday season, the Ontario government announced that beginning March 31st, it would be requiring thousands of patients to switch from their current, physician-prescribed biologic medicines to government-preferred biosimilar. While safe and effective medicines in their own right, biosimilars are not identical to their reference products, and most physicians are wary of unnecessary switching between medicines. Long available in the areas of arthritis, psoriasis, and cancer, biosimilars are now becoming available for ophthalmic conditions. Most ophthalmologists believe that in consultation with their patients they are in the best position to determine the most appropriate and effective treatment.
The survey of 41 Canadian ophthalmologists revealed that 81% were not comfortable with a third party such as a government switching a patient’s medicine for non-medical reasons such as cost, as would occur under the Ontario plan. Ninety percent of respondents said that having sole authority, with the patient, to decide which biologic medicine to use is very important or critical. And 91% considered the ability to prevent a forced switch by a public or private payer very important or critical.