Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand Charitable Trust is a national organisation whose mission is to support people with
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Its Board of Trustees has approved a position statement regarding medications
known as “biosimilars”.
Unlike a generic drug which has the exact same molecular structure as the original brand-name medication, a biosimilar
is not an exact copy The reason for this is that medications known as “biologics” such as infliximab and adalimumab are
derived from living cells and have very complex molecular structures that are impossible to duplicate exactly.
While biosimilars are probably just as effective as the original medications, there is concern about switching someone
who is doing well to another medication that is not exactly the same. As biosimilars are generally less expensive than
the original medication, the decision to switch is usually based on the cost of the medication, rather than its
Currently, in New Zealand, there are no biosimilars being used for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, although it is expected
that they will be introduced in the future.POSITION STATEMENT ON BIOSIMILARS
Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand Charitable Trust is an organisation providing support to the over 20,000 people in New
Zealand with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis). New Zealand has one of the highest
rates of these diseases in the world.
Biosimilars are biologic therapies that are copies of currently approved biological medications (called “originator
drugs”) used to treat these diseases.
Biosimilars are considered to be as safe and as effective as the originator drugs, but, unlike generic medications, they
are not identical.
CCNZ recognises that biosimilars may be considered in the future in New Zealand for the treatment of IBD due to
budgetary constraints as these medications are usually less expensive than the originator drugs.CCNZ has the following position on biologics:
Non-medical switching from a biological medication to a biosimilar is not recommended.
Any switch from an originator biological medication to its biosimilar should be done only with the agreement of both the
patient and doctor.
Any widescale plan for switching from an originator drug to a biosimilar should be accompanied by a national program of
close patient monitoring, specifically monitoring for loss of efficacy and adverse drug reactions.
Any cost savings from the introduction of biosimilars for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease should be
earmarked for the funding of additional medications to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.