WASHINGTON – Today, the president signed into law bipartisan legislation, the Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to enhance education about biosimilar drug products in an effort to increase competition and lower the cost of biologic medicines.
“If you see an advertisement for an expensive biologic, there’s a good chance there are similar drugs out there that work just as well but are less expensive,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This bill educates doctors, nurses and most importantly patients that you can also take this other medicine. We’re putting the power of education into the hands of patients to make wise decisions for their health and their wallet.”
“This new law will allow us to take an important step forward in expanding access to affordable, lifesaving drugs for Granite Staters,” said Senator Hassan. “I am glad to once again team up with Senator Cassidy to help lower health care costs for Granite Staters and all Americans, and I will continue working across the aisle to help ensure that our health care system works for everyone.”
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 biologics could save Americans potentially $54 billion over 10 years in health care costs.
The 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.
Introduced in February, the Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act passed the Senate on March 3, 2021 by unanimous consent. It passed the House of Representatives on April 14, 2021 by a roll call vote of 412-8.
Senators Cassidy and Hassan 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.