CHI NEWS: SB 598 Biosimilars Bill Clears Assembly Business & Professions Committee

Joint Statement from BayBio, BIOCOM, CHI, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and TechNet regarding Senate Bill 598

(Sacramento, June 25, 2013) – On the heels of strong bi-partisan support in the Senate, SB 598, authored by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), was approved today by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on a 12-0 vote. The bill now moves to the Assembly Health Committee.

“Lawmakers recognize that SB 598 is needed to enable unrestricted access to a new class of life-saving and more affordable medicines for California patients with life-threatening and chronic illnesses like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis,” said Eve Bukowski, vice president of state government affairs for the California Healthcare Institute.  “These new treatments may enter the U.S. market as early as 2014 and SB 598 recognizes the need for California’s health policy to reflect advances in new medical technologies.”

Biosimilars are complex and sensitive drugs derived from living organisms and are similar to but not exact copies of originator biologics. SB 598 updates current state law to allow retail pharmacists to substitute biosimilars for brand-name biologics once they are approved by the FDA.

In addition, SB 598 includes provisions to help ensure physicians have the information they need to monitor a patient’s treatment and track biosimilar usage if an adverse reaction were to occur at a later time.

“SB 598 will improve accessibility and safe use of these new therapies for patients while providing for important systems and communications necessary for patient safety,” said Bryan A. Liang, MD, PhD, JD, director of the San Diego Center for Patient Safety at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. “It can ensure that all members of the healthcare team are working with the same information about the patient – a critical need for biosimilars.”

At least 15 biotech companies, including those that make biologic, traditional and generic drugs, are in the process of creating biosimilar therapies. The introduction of potentially lower-cost biosimilars is likely to reduce overall healthcare costs and create competitive price pressure for innovator, traditional and generic drugs.

SB 598 is supported by California physicians, dozens of state and national patient advocacy groups and health experts, multiple labor unions and California’s three primary life science industry organizations (California Healthcare Institute, BayBio and BIOCOM), which represent hundreds of California biomedical companies.

Click Here to view the joint press release from BayBio, BIOCOM, CHI, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and TechNet as a PDF.

Kris Deutschman

Will Zasadny