Biosimilars bill signed into law by Gov. Ricketts
Innovative class of pharmaceuticals provide life-saving treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes
LINCOLN, NE – Legislation enabling the substitution and use of potentially life-saving medications called “biosimilars” was recently signed into law by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. The bill was approved by the Nebraska Legislature on May 3, 47 – 0.
According to the bill’s sponsor, Senator John Kuehn of Heartwell, biosimilars are an innovative class of pharmaceuticals that provide treatment options for health care providers and patients.
“Biosimilars are less costly imitations of drugs known as biologics, which are used to treat a range of diseases including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s and Colitis, and psoriasis. But they are different from generics in that they are not exact copies,” Kuehn said.
“LB 481 is a critical piece of legislation that updates Nebraska statutes to provide guidance for clinicians and dispensers as biosimilar products pass through the FDA approval process.”
“Nebraska becomes the 32nd state to adopted this legislation. Although the FDA is responsible for the approval of biologic and biosimilar medicines and their interchangeability, state law governs the substitution by dispensers when a different biologic is prescribed,” Kuehn said. Since Nebraska passed the legislation in May, three more states have passed biosimilar bills, bringing the grand total to 35.
Jackie Newman’s daughter Zoe was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of two. The disease caused her severe chronic pain that traditional drugs did little to alleviate.
According to Newman, her daughter spent years running through what seemed like every traditional treatment, until she had nearly exhausted them all. But at age four, Zoe was finally old enough to try a new type of drug called a biologic.
“Its effects were nothing short of miraculous. Within the course of weeks, this new drug had relieved much of Zoe’s pain and drastically improved her quality of life,” Newman said.
“I passionately believe in the revolutionary potential these drugs hold for patients, because I’ve seen their incredible power firsthand. Because of biologics, Zoe was able to run, for the first time in her life, at the age of four.”
“LB 481, which allows pharmacists to substitute a biologic medication with an FDA-approved biosimilar, is a crucial step,” she said.
“This legislation will open the doors to biosimilar medicines, providing additional life-changing treatment options for patients, while protecting patient safety by requiring communication by all members of the medical team. The bill provides guidance for health care providers and patients as use of these innovative products grows,” Senator Kuehn said.
“Common sense steps to adopt the use of new technology to improve both efficiency and safety in health care, will ultimately help reduce costs and improve patient outcomes,” he said.
“Biologics are truly life-changing drugs not just for kids with juvenile arthritis but also for patients suffering from chronic diseases like cancer and a host of other autoimmune conditions,” Newman said.
“The passage of LB 481 will dramatically affect not only children like Zoe, but also the thousands of Nebraska patients who stand to benefit from the innovative new treatments biosimilars have to offer. For suffering patients, access to biologic drugs can make the difference between living in pain and living a healthy life. In other words, it makes all the difference in the world,” Newman said.