Competition Bureau completes preliminary investigation of relabelled biologic drugs

News release

June 27, 2022 – GATINEAU, QC – Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau has completed its preliminary investigation into potential anti-competitive harm from relabelled biologic drugs.  Relabelled biologic drugs are identical to originator biologic drugs but marketed under a secondary brand name.

The Bureau closed its investigation because the drugs in question have not been marketed in Canada. Information gathered through the preliminary investigation suggests that, in some cases, relabelling drugs could harm competition by making it less likely that patients will switch away from the original drug. In this way, introducing relabelled biologics may reduce incentives for pharmaceutical companies to develop and market biosimilars, which are highly similar versions of original biologic drugs and are often less expensive.

In future, if it’s found that a relabelled biologic is marketed in Canada and there is compelling evidence of harm to competition, the Bureau will investigate and take appropriate action. Of particular concern would be the introduction of relabelled biologics if they are accompanied by other practices that may raise barriers to entry and expansion for biosimilars.

The Bureau will continue to closely monitor the Canadian biologic and biosimilar industry to respond to developments that have the potential to disrupt competition in this critical sector of the economy. Although the Bureau has concluded this investigation, it will not hesitate to take appropriate action to maintain and promote competition in the pharmaceutical industry.

For more details on the Bureau’s investigation and findings, please consult our comprehensive position statement

Quick facts

  • Biologic drugs are derived from living organisms and tend to be more complex than traditional small molecule drugs. Biosimilar drugs are highly similar versions of original biologics.

  • Biologics are one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical product segments in Canada. Their high cost and continued growth in usage have contributed to a significant increase in pharmaceutical expenditures.

  • This preliminary investigation followed an earlier investigation into alleged anti-competitive conduct relating to biologic drugs.

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The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency that protects and promotes competition for the benefit of Canadian consumers and businesses. Competition drives lower prices and innovation while fueling economic growth.

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