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LETTER: Biosimilars and COVID-19

Virtually everyone in the world today is under threat from the novel coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19.
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Virtually everyone in the world today is under threat from the novel coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. Although the autoimmune systems of otherwise healthy persons should be capable of combating this virus while presenting minor to moderate symptoms, for those whose immune systems are compromised the risks are much greater. Such is the case for persons receiving long-term ongoing treatment with biologic medications such as Remicade (infliximab) the protocols for which require autoimmune suppression using a variety of additional drugs. Individuals who suffer from disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (to name just a few) and for whom biologics can provide not only relief of their symptoms but partial or full remission, thus allowing them to lead relatively normal lives, fall into this category. Unfortunately, their already tenuous situations are further compounded by a current ‘money-saving’ program of the Alberta government compelling them via ‘non-medical switching’ to substitute the biologic with a bio-similar product (Inflectra or Renflexis). This additional layer of unnecessary risk places an already over-stressed segment of the population in even greater jeopardy with the very real potential of grievous harm or even death. To this I can personally attest, for I am one of them.

In a dinner hour presentation to the people of Alberta on Tuesday, April 7, Premier Jason Kenney emphatically stated: “Our first priority is protecting the health of Albertans.” Assuming one can put faith in this statement, I of my own accord and on the assumed behalf of many, respectfully but forcefully insist that the non-medical switching to biosimilars program be at the very least suspended until this pandemic is under control.

Murray Lambert

St. Albert AB.