Illinois Strikes Down Biosimilar Legislation

Illinois is now the 13th state to avoid enacting legislation that would slow patient access to biosimilars, which are new, affordable versions of costly brand biologic medicines that treat cancer, immune disorders and other complex diseases.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) applauds the Illinois state legislature for not advancing Amgen and Genentech-supported legislation (S.B. 1934) that sought to impose more restrictive conditions for interchangeable biosimilar substitution.

Illinois is now the 13th state to avoid enacting legislation that would slow patient access to biosimilars, which are new, affordable versions of costly brand biologic medicines that treat cancer, immune disorders and other complex diseases.

“In state after state, proposed restrictions on access to biosimilars are just additional layers of red-tape and roadblocks,” said Ralph G. Neas, President and CEO of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association. “Legislators have recognized that these provisions are thinly veiled attempts by Amgen and Genentech to ward off competition.”

States continue to feel the strain of rising health costs, particularly in state Medicaid programs. In Illinois, Medicaid expenditure in 2011 on biologic medicines totaled more than $75 million. Express Scripts projections show that the U.S. health-care system would save $250 billion from 2014 to 2024 if just 11 widely-used biologics had biosimilar versions available.

“Competition from biosimilar therapies will lower the cost of many expensive treatments,” said Neas. “Undermining access to these new medicines, especially before the FDA has a chance to offer full guidance, compromises patients by keeping health costs high and limiting the availability of treatment options.”

Illinois joins Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Washington state in refusing to pass burdensome biosimilar legislation. Oregon, Utah and Virginia have passed versions of such laws, but they are constrained by a sunset clause, which most experts believe will render the restrictive sections moot before biosimilars come to market. Arkansas referred biosimilar implementation legislation to a study committee for further review. Legislation currently is under consideration in California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Of the 18 state legislatures that have introduced biosimilar measures, only North Dakota has passed intact the version supported by Amgen and Genentech.

SOURCE: GPhA