The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) held its 7th annual legislative reception and breakfast at Queen’s Park on October 3, 2018. Throughout the reception, MPPs had an opportunity to hear from patients, caregivers, advocates and health experts to learn more about biologics & biosimilars.
Speakers at the reception included The Honourable Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (pictured right); The Honourable Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks; MPP Bill Walker, Chief Government
Whip; MPP France Gélinas, NDP Health Critic and Chief Opposition Whip (pictured below left, holding CCSN sign); MPP John Fraser, Liberal Interim Leader; and MPP Mike Schreiner, Green Party MPP and leader of the Green Party of Ontario (pictured below right).
Patient advocate Palmerino (Reno) Leone of London, ON, a stage 4 melanoma patient, spoke about his experiences on an ongoing clinical trial for a biologic drug. He was joined by his daughter, Julianna Leone, a non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor. She highlighted the far-reaching improvements in cancer treatments and the decrease in side effects that she and her brother experienced compared to her father.
Approximately 30 MPPs from all parties as well as several cabinet ministers attended and networked with medical experts, patients, caregivers and cancer survivors. “Cancer patients and survivors were very well received by MPPs, and we certainly look forward to working with decision makers at Queen’s Park to improve cancer care and healthcare in Ontario, from diagnosis to treatment to post-treatment care,” stated CCSN President & CEO Jackie Manthorne.
Groups from the patient community included the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, Ovarian Cancer Canada (Ontario Region), Prostate Cancer Canada, the Save Your Skin Foundation, the Life Saving Therapies Network and Pancreatic Cancer Canada.
About biologics & biosimilars
Biologic drugs are made using cells from living organisms to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions, including cancer. Biosimilar drugs are similar, but not identical, to the original or ’reference’ biologic medicine. There are no clinically meaningful differences in safety and efficacy between a reference biologic and biosimilar.
Reference biologics cost more when compared to a biosimilar. As a result, biosimilars provide an opportunity for the Ontario government to generate savings, which can be reinvested in the healthcare system.
Biologics and biosimilars have the potential to increase access and treatment options for Ontario cancer patients, and it is clear that increased awareness about these treatments is needed to ensure patients are aware of the options that they can discuss with their treating physician.