(Click here to download Sen. Cassidy’s video statement.)
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed two pieces of bipartisan legislation, the Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act and the Ensuring Innovation Act, introduced by U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) aimed at lowering prescription drug costs.
“These two pieces of legislation passed the Senate with unanimous support. The Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act and the Ensuring Innovation Act both work to lower the price patients pay for their prescriptions,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Increasing competition decreases the price you pay for your prescriptions.”
If a company invents an innovative new drug, they are rewarded with exclusive right to sell that drug for a period of time. However, companies have found loopholes to claim new innovations on the same drug, that aren’t really innovations, to extend their exclusivity and prevent cheaper generics from coming to market. The Ensuring Innovation Act, introduced with U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Roger Marshall (R-KS), would close loopholes to prevent awarding market exclusivity to products that do not represent true innovation and unduly delay cheaper generics from entering the market.
“High prescription drug prices are forcing too many families to choose between the medications they need and other necessities, like groceries or rent,” said Senator Smith. “In this moment, as we navigate the public health and economic crisis of COVID-19, it’s especially important that we stand up for Americans who are struggling to afford life-saving prescription drugs. The bipartisan Ensuring Innovation Act makes clear that true innovation means taking steps to make medications more effective for Minnesotans and all Americans, and focusing on driving down costs for consumers.”
“As a physician, and now a U.S. Senator, I believe innovation and competition can have a profound impact on driving down the cost of health care,” said Senator Marshall. “The current regulatory landscape unnecessarily delays patient access to FDA-approved generics. Our bipartisan legislation ensures affordable life-saving medicine while preserving innovation for cutting-edge medicine.”
The Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act, introduced with U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), would enhance education about biosimilar drug products in an effort to increase competition and lower the cost of biologic medicines.
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.
“Our bipartisan legislation will help lower the cost of health care by educating more Granite Staters and Americans about biosimilars – an under-the-radar alternative to expensive brand name drugs,” said Senator Hassan. “I am glad that the Senate passed this important bipartisan bill to help lower costs for life-saving care, and I urge my colleagues in the House to follow our lead.”
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.
Click here to view Sen. Cassidy’s video statement on YouTube.