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Subsequent-entry biologics set to alter the arthritis treatment landscape

Patient safety paramount as new class of medications become available

TORONTO - September 18, 2014

With the arrival of subsequent-entry biologics (SEBs) set to alter the arthritis treatment landscape, The Arthritis Society released new resources to educate stakeholders on their potential impact. The bottom line: safety and strong public policy must guide SEB use, and patients must be well informed when speaking to their healthcare team.

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“This new class of medications has the potential to offer people with inflammatory arthritis more choices in the search for safe and effective treatments,” said Joanne Simons, chief mission officer at The Arthritis Society. “Canadians with arthritis and their health care providers should work together to ensure patient safety comes first amid this complex issue.”

SEBs are similar to existing “biologic” drugs, which over the past dozen years have altered the treatment of such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. SEBs are becoming increasingly available as biologics come off patent. The core issue at play is the fact that SEBs – produced in a complex process involving living cells – are not generic forms of biologics but instead entirely new drugs.

As it stands, it is unclear what SEBs will be named. While they may have unique brand names, there is the possibility they may share the same chemical name as the biologics they are modeled after.

“To bring clarity for patients, The Arthritis Society is advocating for SEBs to carry their own unique chemical names, and for doctors to be able to request ‘no substitution’ when writing prescriptions for either an SEB or the original biologic,” said Dr. Brian Feldman, chair of The Arthritis Society’s medical advisory committee and head of rheumatology at The Hospital for Sick Children.

The Society is joining a diverse chorus of voices, including the World Health Organization, to call for unique chemical names for SEBs.

Canadians with arthritis are encouraged to play an active role in their healthcare by ensuring their doctor prescribes both the chemical and brand names of a medication, that they inform their doctor if there appears to be an SEB-original biologic substitution, and that Health Canada be notified if there are any adverse effects.


The Arthritis Society has been setting lives in motion for over 65 years. Dedicated to a vision of living well while creating a future without arthritis, The Society is Canada’s principal health charity providing education, programs and support to the over 4.6 million Canadians living with arthritis. Since its founding in 1948, The Society has been the largest non-government funder of arthritis research in Canada, investing nearly $190 million in projects that have led to breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with arthritis. The Arthritis Society is accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program.  For more information and to make a donation, visit

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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Douglas Emerson
National Manager, Communications – The Arthritis Society
tel: 416-979-3348 x3349
cell: 647-706-0440
email: Back to News