Biosimilar biologic drugs

A biosimilar biologic drug, or biosimilar, is a biologic drug that is highly similar to a biologic drug that was already authorized for sale (known as the reference biologic drug). Biosimilars may enter the market after the expiry of reference biologic drug patents and data protections.

Biosimilars are regulated as new drugs under the Food and Drugs Act and the Food and Drug Regulations. To obtain authorization as a biosimilar, the drug manufacturer must provide information to Health Canada to show that the biosimilar and the reference biologic drug are highly similar, and that there are no clinically meaningful differences in terms of safety and efficacy between them. Health Canada's decision to authorize a biosimilar for sale is based upon a benefit/risk assessment after considering all of the data submitted by the manufacturer. Health Canada's rigorous standards for authorization mean that patients and health care practitioners can rely upon the quality, safety, and efficacy of a biosimilar, just as for any biologic drug.

Visit the links below for more information on the regulation of biosimilars.

Educational Resources on Biosimilars Biologic Drugs

Biosimilar biologic drugs in Canada: Fact Sheet provides information about biosimilars and their regulation in Canada.

Biosimilar Biologic Drug infographic, aimed at patients, provides basic information on biosimilars and how they are regulated in Canada.

Handbook for health care professionals on biosimilar biologic drugs, aimed at health care professionals, provides objective, evidence-based information on the regulation and scientific basis for the authorization of biosimilars by Health Canada.

Guidance documents

The Guidance Document Information and Submission Requirements for Biosimilar Biologic Drugs communicates the regulatory framework for biosimilars and is intended to help manufacturers follow the laws and regulations governing the authorization of biosimilars in Canada.

The Notice to Stakeholders Release of the Revised Guidance Document: Information and Submission Requirements for Biosimilar Biologic Drugs outlines key revisions in the 2016 guidance document.

The Guidance Document: Data Protection under C.08.004.1 of the Food and Drug Regulations provides information about the administration of C.08.004.1 of the Food and Drug Regulations

The Guidance Document: Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations provides information about the administration of the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations.

The Policy Statement: Clarifying the appropriate regulatory pathway for subsequent entry low molecular weight heparins describes Health Canada's approach to regulating low molecular weight heparins (LMWHs) containing medicinal products claiming to be similar to another heparin already on the market.

Naming of Biologic Drugs

Notice to Stakeholders - Policy Statement on the Naming of Biologic Drugs

What We Heard Report - Stakeholder Consultation on the Naming of Biologic Drugs

International Collaboration

Health Canada contributed to two International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA) statements on biosimilars. These statements for healthcare professionals, and patients and the general public give assurance that regulators have robust processes in place for the authorization and monitoring of biosimilars.

Product Monograph

The Product Monograph Template - Schedule D - Biosimilar Biologic Drug is intended to guide sponsors in the preparation of biosimilar product monographs.

Stakeholder Engagement

Health Canada's 2017 Biosimilars Workshop: Summary Report

Additional information

Health Canada's Drug Product Database contains product specific information including product monographs for drugs authorized in Canada.

Regulatory Decision Summaries (RDSs) briefly explain Health Canada's decision for drugs including biosimilars.

Summary Basis of Decision (SBD) documents explain in further detail why Health Canada authorized certain drugs for sale in Canada. SBD documents are available for biosimilars authorized in Canada.

Submissions Under Review (SUR) lists certain drug submissions currently under review by Health Canada.

The Canada Vigilance Adverse Reaction Online Database contains information about suspected adverse reactions (also known as side effects) to health products.

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