Rx substitutes without your consent? Not on our watch.

| Patrick Stone

Through our advocacy efforts, the National Psoriasis Foundation urges legislators to put the patient-provider relationship at the center of all treatment planning. 

The decision of what medication you take should be one that you and your doctor make together. A medication should not be substituted for another without your consent, especially when there may be some questions about the safety or effectiveness of that drug. 

That’s why the NPF has been fighting for the passage of biosimilar legislation that requires provider notification of biosimilar substitution. 

What are biosimilars? 

Biosimilars are treatments that are very similar to an already approved biologic, which is a protein-based drug derived from living cells cultured in a laboratory. 

However, biosimilars are not generic versions of biologics because there's no way to precisely copy a drug made from living cells. Read the NPF’s official statement on biosimilars here.

Due to these significant differences, it is important that states pass legislation that addresses the uniqueness of biologics and biosimilars.

What political environment is leading to this success? 

First, state legislatures are more willing to address complex issues impacting their constituents without letting political rhetoric get in the way. 

Second, the people advocating for, and against, this legislation have had an open line of communication for the past few years. They have been participating in coalition efforts focused on this issue alone. The purpose of these coalitions is for all of those affected to voice their opinion and discuss alternatives before a bill is introduced. 

These high-level negotiations have resulted in compromise that has trickled down into the states. When you approach an issue, and many of the questions surrounding it are already answered, it makes it easier for legislators to digest.  

A clear example of this progress is the final passage of the legislation in California in 2015. The bill was previously passed and then vetoed by the governor in 2013. In Gov. Brown’s veto message, he identified the legislation as “premature.” 

But when advocates approached the subject again, they came prepared with statements of unity from drug manufacturers, physicians and patient organizations…laying a clear path to passage.

In fact, the legislation has passed in 18 states so far.

So how does this affect me?

In states where these bills have passed, will you still have access to a cheaper medication when it is available? Of course. This legislation doesn’t prohibit the prescribing of a biosimilar in any way. Optimistic estimates of biosimilar cost savings have stated that the medications will be 15-30 percent less expensive than the brand name drug .

As we near state legislative season at the start of the 2016, organizations representing patients and doctors are continuing to communicate with pharmacists and others  to address their concerns with the legislation. 

In each of the states that are targeted for passage, a group of government relations professionals – now seasoned on the pathway to success – will descend on the state capitol. 

So often, particularly when it comes to healthcare issues, they are prepared to hold a hard policy line. But in this instance, they come bearing good news to local legislators: As close to a consensus as possible has already been reached before the ink on the legislation is dry. 

However, we still have 32 more states to go! Your voice is needed. If you are interested in hearing more about this issue or others before you state legislature email me at [email protected]


Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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