Lower Costs for Biologic Medicines

May 23, 2017

The House approved legislation to allow pharmacists to substitute therapeutically equivalent biological drugs for brand name biological medicines, so long as a doctor has not specifically excluded substitute medications. The patient could also reject the substitution.

The goal of the legislation is to provide patients with affordable treatment options while ensuring a patient’s doctor is notified of the change.

An Act Concerning Biological Products (HB 7118) authorizes a pharmacist to substitute a biological medicine for an interchangeable biological product if the prescribing practitioner has not prohibited the substitution. The patient must be informed of the substitution. Within 48 hours after dispensing an interchangeable biological product, the pharmacist must inform the prescribing doctor of the substitution.

These are extremely complex and costly medicines. This bill ensures patients have access to less costly options and that pharmacies and doctors are communicating.

Biologics are a class of medication that treat various forms of cancers, arthritis, psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases. These medicines are complex, as they are made with living cells that work not only to help patients feel relief, but target a disease at its source. Near replica versions of biologics, interchangeable biological products, have been developed – and are often available at a lower cost.

Consumers should have access to lower cost interchangeable biological products but we must also ensure they are provided with proper information about the medications they are receiving. By instituting the notification provisions, this bill will make certain patients, doctors and pharmacists are all on the same page.

31 states and have passed biosimilar legislation.