Eric Tichy, PharmD, MBA, vice president of pharmacy formulary at Mayo Clinic Health System, discusses the importance of state legislation to drive access and uptake of biosimilars.
You had the opportunity to provide feedback to Minnesota congressional leaders on HF 1516, a bill to increase patient access to biosimilars. Could you explain what this bill is and why more bills like this are needed?
So one of the reasons for this bill is that we found that there were barriers to the implementation of biosimilars. We’ve seen it in our experience, and it’s been noted by other organizations and other healthcare leaders. One of the biggest hurdles is actually that sometimes you come across health plans that will prefer an innovative product. And it may be because they have some kind of discount or some other situation that makes them prefer the innovator product.
We have actually encountered scenarios where this innovative product is 3 times more expensive than the biosimilar product. We felt that we needed incentives to push the practice to be able to use biosimilars, as our providers wanted to use biosimilars, our patients wanted to use a biosimilar, and we had payers who wouldn’t let us do that.
There are also some of these logistical issues related to product storage. This bill would help ensure that biosimilars are treated more similarly to how we treat generic drugs, where the distributing organization decides which product is used. Payers don’t micromanage the generic drug we use, and payors do a lot of important things to reduce costs. And we would just say, trust us to kind of drive at the lowest cost, we’ll pass it on. And you can focus on other things where you can bring value to healthcare and reduce overall healthcare costs.