Our pharmacist, Carolyn Whiskin recently returned from the Canadian Pharmacist’s Association meeting in Fredricton, New Brunswick where she presented on the topic of biologics and biosimilars. Biologic treatments have revolutionized the way we treat many autoimmune diseases. Human insulin is one of the first biologic treatments that was developed in the 1980’s. It is produced through the use of a bacterial cell, e-coli, which is biogenetically programmed to make insulin identical to that of a human. Since that time, many biologic treatments have been developed for many conditions; all mimicking different body produced structures based on the treatment needed. In the area of autoimmune diseases where excess inflammation is made, biologics mimic the look of antibodies. Normally, antibodies remove specific viruses or bacteria, however these biologic treatments are designed to remove specific inflammatory substances made in excess in these diseases.
When the patent expires on a biologic, this allows another pharmaceutical manufacturer to produce a product that is highly similar, but can never be considered identical as it must be produced by different cell line from the originator biologic. Health Canada has strict guidelines on how biosimilars are approved, which is much more rigorous than approval of a generic medication.
Stay tuned to a future blog to learn more about the role of biosimilars…
Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health. Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.