With new, innovative arthritis medications coming to market, patients with arthritis may soon have access to potentially less expensive biosimilar medications (similar to biologics).
However, imagine that, without your knowledge, your pharmacy substituted the biologic medication prescribed by your doctor with a new interchangeable biosimilar. Residents of Arizona no longer have to worry because this week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2310 (HB 2310) into law. HB 2310 allows pharmacists to substitute biologic medications with new, interchangeable and potentially less expensive biosimilar medications when they come to market. The bill also ensures patients and their physicians know when a substitution occurs, resulting in a complete and accurate patient medical record. And, if physicians do not want a substitution to occur, they can stipulate that the prescription be dispensed as written.
“This is another great victory for people who have arthritis,” said Krystin Herr, director for the Arthritis Foundation’s Advocacy & Access program. “Having access to these game-changing medications as well as having a high level of communication when a medication is switched is vital to battling this disease and ensuring patients are able to live life to its fullest. We are very grateful to Governor Ducey and Representative Regina Cobb who authored the bill.”
Arthritis Foundation Advocates played an integral role in this latest win. In addition to meeting with legislators, sending letters and emails, making phone calls, writing op-eds, House Bill 2310 was the primary piece of legislation that Advocates lobbied for during the Arizona Capitol Day on February 8, 2016.
“Arizona Arthritis Foundation Advocates came out in full force throughout the process, working to highlight the importance of access to new and innovative medications while protecting the patient-provider relationship,” said James A. Jenkins, PhD, MPH, regional public policy chair for the Arthritis Foundation.
Platinum Ambassador, Jessica Edgar, RN, CPNP, wrote an op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star about the importance of physician-patient communication when biosimilars are prescribed.
“For patients like me, this communication aspect is critical,” wrote Edgar. “Not only does it provide medical teams with the information they need to provide the best care, but it also gives those being treated the confidence and hope they are a day closer to a healthy life.”
The voices of our Advocates set the tone throughout the legislative process where it received overwhelming support and only one “nay” vote in both the Arizona House of Representatives and the Arizona Senate.
Congratulations to the fantastic Advocates in Arizona for their work in getting HB 2310 signed into law and residents of Arizona who are living with arthritis and now have greater access to all medications!