Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced a month ago that 26,000 patients already getting provincially funded biologic drugs would gradually be switched to biosimilar ones.
Biologics are complex drugs derived from living cells. Biosimilars mimic the original drugs but are based on expired patents and can be delivered at less cost.
The government notes Health Canada has signed off on switching to biosimilars as safe and effective, and that similar policies are in place in the United Kingdom, Poland, Norway and Austria.
Shandro has said Alberta is also following the lead of British Columbia and Manitoba and expects the move to save up to $380 million over the next four years. Added savings are expected as more biosimilar drugs come on the market.
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has said the switch could lead to adverse reactions in some patients. Some of the people with Shepherd on Wednesday expressed the same worry.
Wilma Ritter, diagnosed at age four with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, said the biologic drug Remicade has allowed her to avoid a life of dependency.
“Now I can walk. I work. I live independently without any supports. Now I pay income tax instead of getting the government to give me money to live,” she said.
“Being forced to stop using Remicade is putting my stability as a person with an autoimmune disorder at risk. Switching to a biosimilar will not work for everyone. And there is also no way to predict who it will work for and who it will not.”
Shepherd said the government is wrong to make the change mandatory for existing patients.
“It’s important to introduce biosimilars (to new patients),” he said. “I recognize that there are indeed costs that we need to reckon with and I think it’s reasonable for government to move forward.
“My disagreement is with the manner in which it is moving forward… chaotic, rushed, not thought through, not considering long-term potential consequences.”
Shandro, in a statement, said that keeping existing patients on biologics is unnecessary and ultimately self-defeating.
“There is no scientific evidence that switching to biosimilars puts patients at added risk; there is overwhelming evidence that biosimilars are clinically equivalent to biologics,” he said.
“Grandfathering patients currently on biologics would cancel almost all the savings we’re projecting …. Those savings are all to be reinvested in the health system.”
The plan is to have the 26,000 patients switched over by July 1. The change will not affect patients on private drug plans or those paying out of pocket. It is not to apply to pregnant women or children.
Patients will be able to apply for medical exemptions, which could be granted following a review by doctors, to prevent a switch.
The province says its spending on biologics has been soaring over the last five years. It says the cost has been growing an average of 16 per cent a year and reached $238 million in 2018-19.
It says that biologics represent almost one-fifth of the government’s total spending on drugs provided to fewer than two per cent of patients.
KFL&A reports 34 new COVID-19 cases, 304 active – Globalnews.ca
The Kingston region is once again over the 300 active cases mark, as Wednesday’s 34 new cases bring the daily active case count to 304.
Of the new cases, 10 are in the five-to-11 age group.
Nineteen people remain in hospital, with 11 of those cases are in the intensive care unit. Six people are on ventilators.
The cases per 100,000 over the past week is up slightly to 104.7, from 102.8 Tuesday.
The rise in cases locally has also forced the postponing of at least one local event. The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes was scheduled to have its grand opening on Dec. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m.
“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have significant impacts throughout our communities, the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston is committed to supporting the community through this time of heightened risk and uncertainty,” the Marine Museum said in a statement Wednesday.
“We consider the safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors paramount.”
As Covid-19 cases rise in the Kingston region the community reacts
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Roussin takes aim at HIV stigma – Brandon Sun
Wednesday was World AIDS Day and the province is getting behind the message to end the stigma of the disease.
There were 117 new cases of HIV identified in the province in 2020, slightly fewer than in 2019.
“Even though there are fewer cases, there was also significantly less testing,” Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, said Wednesday.
“Around 25 per cent of people with HIV are unaware they have it, and that can contribute to the spread.”
The stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS continues to be a significant public health issue in the province. Roussin said the populations most at risk are also facing problems of accessibility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Roussin urged people who may be at risk to get regular testing and speak to their health-care providers regarding prevention, testing and treatment options.
All these services are confidential and free of charge.
Those living with HIV are also encouraged to stay connected to care and treatments.
Roussin said it is considered a chronic infection and there are effective treatments for HIV, with many being able to get the virus level down to undetectable levels and minimizing risk of transmitting it to other people.
» The Brandon Sun
COVID-19 vaccines: 18% of Ottawa kids 5-11 have 1st doses – Globalnews.ca
Nearly 14,000 Ottawa kids have gotten their first COVID-19 vaccine shots in their first week of eligibility, according to the local health unit.
Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard reports that 13,887 kids aged five to 11, representing 18 per cent of the total age group in the city, have their initial shots as of Wednesday morning.
Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said earlier this week that 40 per cent of local kids in this youngest eligible demographic have appointments booked through the provincial vaccination system. This doesn’t account for shots booked at pharmacies or doctors’ offices.
City-wide, 86 per cent of the population aged five and older now have at least one dose.
Meanwhile, OPH reported 50 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, surpassing the 32,000-case mark since the start of the pandemic.
The number of active infections held relatively steady at 329 in the latest report.
There are now 11 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Ottawa, two of whom are in the intensive care unit.
COVID-19: Proof of vaccine now needed to fly in Canada
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
China’s economy looks especially vulnerable to the spread of Omicron – The Economist
The inflation debate could preview the next big shifts in Canadian politics – CBC.ca
DAZN named Apple TV App of the Year in 2021 App Store Awards – DAZN News US
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
News16 hours ago
Middle Class are Under Siege in Canada
News15 hours ago
Super Powers Addiction to Opium
Health23 hours ago
How to talk to children about getting their vaccine: U of T's Jean Wilson shares advice – News@UofT
Health16 hours ago
How HIV research paved the way for the Covid mRNA vaccines – CNBC
Health19 hours ago
COVID-19 vaccine rolls out for children under 12 – Yahoo News Canada
Media17 hours ago
Facebook whistleblower Haugen urges lawmakers to avert impasse on social media laws – NBC News
Health21 hours ago
With Covid vaccination & booster shots, should we worry about omicron? What is known and still unknown – Economic Times
Media13 hours ago
Lush Is Selectively Quitting Social Media, Can You?