Bill Increases Awareness About Biologic Medications Used to Treat Diabetes, Some Cancers, and Other Conditions
WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) to enhance education about biosimilar drug products passed the U.S. House of Representatives today and now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. The Senators’ bipartisan Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act would help increase competition and lower the cost of biologic medicines.
Biologics are complex products that may be used to treat serious or chronic conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain cancers. Biosimilars are highly similar to and have no clinically meaningful differences from brand biologic drugs, but are manufactured by different companies. Independent studies have estimated that switching to biologics could save Americans up to $54 billion over 10 years in health care costs.
“Biosimilar alternatives can help save lives and lower health care costs, but currently many doctors and patients in New Hampshire and across the country are in the dark about this affordable option,” Senator Hassan said. “I am glad that both chambers have passed our bipartisan legislation to improve education about biosimilar products, and I urge the President to sign this important legislation into law.”
“Passing this bill in Congress has the potential to lower prescription costs for patients, but also for taxpayers, because taxpayers pay a lot of the bill too,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This legislation improves awareness for the doctor, and the patient, that these drugs are effective and they’re less expensive. They’re good for your health. They’re good for your wallet. It’s a good piece of legislation.”
The Senators’ bipartisan legislation would provide educational materials to patients and providers to help improve confidence in the safety and effectiveness of these FDA-approved products. Improved confidence in biosimilars could lead to increased use, which in turn could increase health care savings.
Senators Hassan and Cassidy have previously worked together to help lower the cost of health care, and recently led successful efforts to include a provision in the year-end package that was signed into law to help end the absurd practice of surprise medical billing. Additionally, in 2019, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Cassidy and Hassan to close a loophole in the Medicaid rebate program that results in big pharmaceutical companies overcharging taxpayers. The bipartisan legislation will save taxpayers approximately $3.1 billion over the next 10 years.