As people get older, many find themselves becoming more engaged with their health and how to improve it. For example, a growing health trend is the clean food movement. Its principles are simple: eat fewer foods with refined or artificial ingredients, and more unprocessed, whole foods to help improve nutrition, manage weight and feel good. This trend speaks to a broader health practice: more closely monitoring what is put into one’s body.
Whether it is the food you eat, the self-care products you use or the medicine you take, it is only natural to make sure you’re giving your body what is best.
When it comes to taking medications, even ones prescribed by your doctor, it is critical to make sure that what you are taking is right for you. With so many products available today, and so many different (and sometimes conflicting) messages about what is best for you, knowing what’s best can be a challenge. Especially since what may be right for one person may not be right for you. It is important to learn about the medication you are taking, including what side effects to expect, what warning signs might mean that a medication is not right for you, and how it is meant to fit into your overall treatment plan.
The Right Medication
If you have a chronic condition such as anemia, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, hormone deficiency, or cancer, one of the types of medications you might be prescribed is known as a biologic. Biologic medicines are made using biotechnology from living organisms and their cells.
Patents for innovator brand name biologics are beginning to expire, allowing scientists to develop similar medications known as biosimilars. Though biosimilars are based on the innovator brand name biologic drug, they are not identical. There can be implications to switching between products, so patients need to understand exactly which medication—the innovator brand name biologic or the biosmilar—is best for them.
It is important for anyone currently taking a biologic medication to continue to receive the medication they expect, in consultation with their physician.
If someone is on an innovator biologic, the discussion to switch to a biosimilar should ultimately start as a conversation between that patient and their doctor, taking into account available clinical evidence and any policies relevant to where you live. Make sure to ask your doctor to discuss all available treatment options to help you decide which medication is the right one for you.
In Canada, the provinces and territories decide whether an innovator biologic and its biosimilar are interchangeable and under what circumstances a patient’s medication can be substituted.
Even so, Health Canada recommends that any decision to switch from an innovator brand name biologic to a biosimilar should be made by the treating physician in consultation with the patient, taking into account available clinical evidence and any policies of the relevant jurisdiction.
If you receive a medication that seems different from what you were prescribed, or are unsure about whether you should be on an innovator brand name biologic or a biosimlar, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about it. Though the switch could be well-intentioned, make sure you bring it to the attention your doctor who ultimately knows the right treatment plan for you. With this knowledge, you’ll be prepared to make the most informed decisions to help continue on your path to health.