Posted on Jan 15, 2020

UCP botches switch from biologic to biosimilar drugs for its $4.7 billion corporate giveaway

Albertans living with chronic illness are devastated that Premier Jason Kenney and the UCP government are rushing the process to force Alberta patients to switch from biologic1 to biosimilar medications without proper consultation in order to pay for its $4.7-billion corporate giveaway.


David Shepherd, NDP Official Opposition Critic for Health, has received over a hundred calls and emails since the UCP announced it would no longer fund a number of biologics that treat autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. 


“My heart truly breaks for these families who have been left in the dark about the future of their health care by the UCP,” Shepherd said. “The Health Minister has botched this process and he knows it - but patients are in distress and they deserve answers.”


Calgary residents Elizabeth and Randy Edgerton are afraid what impact the switch will have on their son, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s/Ulcerative colitis as a teenager. 


“To say our son is saddened by the UCP plan to switch stable patients to a biosimilar, for no medical reason, is a complete understatement. He is truly devastated, as are we,” Elizabeth said. “We are also concerned about the logistics of the switch as the patients will need to go to different clinics for the infusions which do not yet appear to be in place, and there will not be a sufficient number of them to cover the increase in patients.”


Wilma Ritter, who was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at four years old, says she is appalled at the UCP’s hasty decision and will not be voting for Kenney again in the next election. 


“More research needs to be done in this field,” Ritter said. “Too many lives are susceptible and will be forced to live a lifestyle filled with pain, unable to work, unable to walk or drive, and unable to live out their potential. I do not appreciate the government making our medical decisions.”


Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition demands Health Minister Tyler Shandro immediately responds to these concerns:


  • Will there be a sufficient number of clinics to cover the increase in patients in need of infusions and will they be accessible for rural Albertans? What is the government’s timeline?
  • Why is the government forcing the switch on already stabilized patients?
  • How many costly hospitalizations will occur as a result of this forced change?
  • What mental health supports will be provided for Albertans impacted by the change?