Enzi, Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Biosimilar Education

May 27, 2019
Allison Inserro

Another piece of bipartisan legislation was introduced last week that seeks to promote biosimilars.

Another piece of bipartisan legislation was introduced last week that seeks to promote biosimilars.

Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, and Senator Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, unveiled legislation to enhance education about biosimilars in an effort to increase competition and lower the cost of biologics.

According to a joint statement, the bill has 3 main parts: requiring HHS to create a central website for educational resources on biosimilars; requiring the HHS secretary to establish a database to help medical professionals easily compare data associated with biologic and biosimilar products; and establishing incentives for medical providers to learn more about biosimilars.

It aims to boost the confidence level of both physicians and patients regarding biosimilars’ safety and effectiveness.

The 2 senators cite the slow uptake of biosimilars in the US market, saying that while just 2% of Americans use biologics, they make up 40% of total spending on prescription drugs.

“We are not benefiting from cheaper prescription drug alternatives like biosimilars as much as we should,” Enzi said. “Biosimilars are one of the ways we can do something about healthcare costs without just shifting them elsewhere in the system or implementing administrative price controls. This legislation would help increase confidence in lower-cost biosimilar products, which could drive down drug costs for Americans.”

“Biosimilars have the potential to reduce how much Granite Staters and Americans are spending on drugs, but there is a lack of awareness about these products,” Hassan added. “This bipartisan legislation would help improve awareness and understanding of biosimilars, which in turn could help increase the use of these products and save money for consumers and the federal government.”

A 2017 study by the RAND Corporation estimated the cost savings potential of biosimilars to be $54 billion over 10 years.

Also last week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) released a bill that includes several components related to biosimilars, including one that would require updates to the FDA’s Purple Book, which provides stakeholders with information on biologics. Another part addresses the abuse of citizen petitions.

In addition, that bipartisan bill, sponsored by chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and ranking member Patty Murray, D-Washington, stipulates that the FDA would be required to establish a website for stakeholder education on biologics, including biosimilars and interchangeable products, and allows for the development and improvement of continuing medical education for providers on these topics.