Minnesota State Senator Discusses Pushback to Groundbreaking Biosimilar Coverage Bill

March 17, 2021

State Senator Carla Nelson explains how the pharmaceutical industry is reacting to her bill requiring payers to cover all approved biosimilars and reference products.

Why is Minnesota a good place to try a bill of this type, especially since it's the first of its kind in the country?

Nelson: Well, I think Minnesota is a great place, because number 1: we like to be a state of innovation. Whether it be education or in other areas, Minnesota is an innovator. Secondly, we are a hotbed of excellent health care. And I'll give a shout-out to the Mayo Clinic, which is in my district in Rochester. We have a number of gold standard health care providers in our state. We also are a state known for medical innovation, and so a medical ally comes to mind. So, Minnesota is the place to do this. And I'm very proud of the fact that our first biosimilar bill actually passed before we even had 1 biosimilar in our nation. And the point is, we should be on the cutting edge of this and Minnesota can lead. It will be great for our citizens and it will also be great for those [companies] who will continue to [develop] those biosimilars that will have the same outcomes, but at a much lower cost.

What are the politics involved here and are you feeling any pushback from the payer or manufacturer community?

Nelson: There's always pushback to change, and the key is really listening to those objections—really trying to sort out which ones are objections that matter, [such as] how is it affecting the patient? How is it affecting the doctor-patient relationship? How is it affecting the cost and the choice? So, those are the things that really come to the front. I'm very pleased with the language we have in [the bill, addressing] wholesale cost and covering biosimilars that are at a lower cost. I think those are 2 really key pieces that are going to help drive this to fruition and actually incentivize more biosimilars and get lower-cost of drugs to our patients on time without needing to go through the delay of prior authorization. And I think our medical providers will appreciate as well that these things are covered on the formulary, so they don't have to go through the cycle of paperwork for things like prior authorizations.

To read more about SF 990, click here.

To hear about this bill from State Representative Jennifer Schultz, co-author of SF 990, click here.