The Arthritis Foundation thanks the governors in eight states for signing biosimilar legislation in 2018 that enhances patient access to new and innovative medications, while ensuring that pharmacists are communicating critical, up-to-date medical information about patients to physicians. New laws in Connecticut, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, West Virginia and Wisconsin will positively impact approximately 5.3 million people with doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
“This legislation will grant access to life-changing medications while ensuring proper safeguards for both patient and physician when a prescription is substituted,” said Connecticut Advocacy Chair Paula Haney.
In Wyoming, Sen. Fred Baldwin (bill sponsor) said: “The passage of SF75 is what happens when diverse groups come together and build quality legislation that makes sense and works to improve the lives of citizens. Biosimilar legislation improves quality of lives and helps to make cutting-edge medicine affordable and effective. I truly wish that every piece of legislation my name was in did this much good.”
Deb Constien, Wisconsin advocacy chair, testified twice on biosimilar legislation – and was able to attend the bill signing. “Biosimilars being available in our health care system opens doors for new options for the patients like me who have gone through most of the biologics that are available at this time. It is critical that communication occurs between the rheumatologist and patient if there are any changes to occur at the pharmacy level. This new legislation in Wisconsin ensures communication will occur.”
Advocates were also hard at work in Michigan, ensuring that biosimilar legislation was signed into law. According to Jim, a young man from Michigan, in a letter to the chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, “The accuracy and precision of my medical records is of the utmost importance in providing adequate medical history to doctors I may be seeing for the first time, as well as doctors I have been seeing for years.” With the bill passing in Michigan, his physicians will be notified if there are changes in his medication at the pharmacy level, providing a complete and accurate record.
As a result of this bill passage, pharmacist and physician communication will be required when an interchangeable biologic substitution is made. This ensures that the physician knows exactly which medication the patient is taking to determine possible side effects, and further allows the physician to closely monitor the care and progress of his or her patients. Without this protection, it would be possible for a substitution to occur at the pharmacist level, and the prescribing physician may not know if a patient is taking the biologic prescribed or another drug.
This legislation would not have succeeded without the hard work from the primary sponsors in each state, as well as many of our Advocates who provided testimony. We are extremely grateful to them and the entire state legislatures in each of these eight states.
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