Published Online: Sunday, July 1, 2007

Leaders of the generic drug industry called on Congress to create a new pathway for expeditious approval of generic biologics or "biosimilars," a step they said would translate into significant savings for Americans afflicted with the diseases of the 21st century. Testifying on behalf of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, Barr Pharmaceuticals Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bruce Downey urged the House Subcommittee on Health to "open the door for generic and other manufacturers to provide affordable access to many of the lifesaving biological medicines used in the treatment of diabetes, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases."

Currently, these treatments are priced so high that they are out of reach for many patients. For instance, biologic drugs for multiple sclerosis range in price from $16,000 to $25,000 a year, while the rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis medicine etanercept (Enbrel) costs an average of $16,000 a year per patient.

"What becomes frightening from the cost perspective is that not only are the costs of biological treatments getting more expensive each year, but the utilization of these medicines is growing as well," Downey said. "

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