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Legislation to combat high drug costs heads to President’s desk

Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 5:43 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Two Republican-backed bills aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs are headed to the President’s desk this week.

The Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act will enhance education about biosimilar drug products in an effort to increase competition and lower the cost of biologic medicines like HUMIRA and Enbrel.

The Ensuring Innovation Act will ensure that medication prices cannot be tampered with if slight changes are made to medications. The bill would essentially make more generic medication options available over name-branded ones.

”They are a product of listening to patients, the people back home, and knowing we have to lower their prescriptions. One addresses the most expensive drugs, one addresses the least expensive drugs,” said Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy.

Biologics are complex products that may be used to treat serious or chronic conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers. Biosimilars are highly similar and have no clinically meaningful differences from brand biologic drugs but are manufactured by different companies.

Both pieces of legislation were introduced by Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) along with U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Roger Marshall (R-KS). The bills passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week and now head to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

In a time where healthcare resources are high in demand due to COVID-19, Senator Cassidy said this legislation will help the average American and those still suffering from the virus.

”Congress has funded research. The NIH (National Institutes of Health) will put out the proposals that would do that research needed on how to help the long haulers,” said Cassidy.

This also includes blood pressure and cholesterol medications, as well as EpiPens.

”For example, if you see an advertisement for a biologic - something you infuse, very expensive for Humira; that drug has been off-patent for 10 years,” Cassidy said. “There’s actually competitor drugs that work just as well and are less expensive.”

The legislation is one of the first major advancements in the fight for lower drug costs since a federal hearing with big pharmaceutical companies in 2019.

Cassidy says there’s still more work to be done, but this latest move will help improve awareness for the doctor and the patient.

Independent studies have estimated that the plan could save Americans potentially 54 billion dollars over 10 years in healthcare costs.

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