Biosimilars bill advances in Nebraska Legislature

Innovative class of pharmaceuticals provide life-saving treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes
By: Nebraska Biosimilars
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Lincoln - Nebraska - US

LINCOLN, Neb. - April 12, 2017 - PRLog -- A bill enabling the substitution and use of potentially life-saving medications called "biosimilars" was approved Wednesday on first round debate by the Nebraska Legislature on a vote of 35 - 0.

According to the bill's sponsor, Senator John Kuehn of Heartwell, biosimilars are an innovative class of pharmaceuticals that provide treatment options for health care providers and patients.

"Biosimilars are less costly imitations of drugs known as biologics, which are used to treat a range of diseases including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and anemia. But they are different from generics in that they are not exact copies," Kuehn said.

"LB 481 is a critical piece of legislation that updates Nebraska statutes to provide guidance for clinicians and dispensers as biosimilar products pass through the FDA approval process."

Jackie Newman's daughter Zoe was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of two. The disease caused her severe chronic pain that traditional drugs did little to alleviate.

"I watched as my little girl shuffled across the floor like an old lady, as she cried when I tried to put footie pajamas on her, and as she reached out her arms to me every time she needed to stand up because she couldn't do it herself. As the months turned into years, I grappled with the daily reality of watching my child suffer—a sense of helplessness no parent should ever have to endure," Newman said.

According to Newman, her daughter spent years running through what seemed like every traditional treatment, until she had nearly exhausted them all. But at age four, Zoe was finally old enough to try a new type of drug called a biologic.

"Its effects were nothing short of miraculous. Within the course of weeks, this new drug had relieved much of Zoe's pain and drastically improved her quality of life," Newman said.

"I passionately believe in the revolutionary potential these drugs hold for patients, because I've seen their incredible power firsthand. Because of biologics, Zoe was able to run, for the first time in her life, at the age of four. Seeing my daughter go from tears over the pain to completing her first Jingle Bell Run (a 5k!) was one of the most incredible moments of both of our lives."

"LB 481, which allows pharmacists to substitute a biologic medication with an FDA-approved biosimilar, is a crucial step," she said.

"This legislation will open the doors to biosimilar medicines, providing additional life-changing treatment options for patients, while protecting patient safety by requiring communication by all members of the medical team. The bill would provide guidance for health care providers and patients as use of these innovative products grows," Senator Kuehn said.

"To date, 28 states have adopted similar legislation. Although the FDA is responsible for the approval of biologic and biosimilar medicines and their interchangeability, state law governs the substitution by dispensers when a different biologic is prescribed," Kuehn said.

"Common sense steps to adopt the use of new technology to improve both efficiency and safety in health care, will ultimately help reduce costs and improve patient outcomes," he said.

"Biologics are truly life-changing drugs not just for kids with juvenile arthritis but also for patients suffering from chronic diseases like cancer and a host of other autoimmune conditions," Newman said.

"The passage of LB 481 will dramatically affect not only children like Zoe, but also the thousands of Nebraska patients who stand to benefit from the innovative new treatments biosimilars have to offer. For suffering patients, access to biologic drugs can make the difference between living in pain and living a healthy life. In other words, it makes all the difference in the world," Newman said.


**Media notes:
Jackie Newman is available for interviews. Please contact Dan Parsons to make arrangements.
Senator Kuehn is also available for additional comments and questions. Contact Sen. Kuehn  at (402) 471-2732

Distributed by Parsons Public Relations, Inc.

Dan Parsons
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Tags:Biosimilars, Arthritis, Diabetes
Location:Lincoln - Nebraska - United States
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