Brindisi introduces legislation to lower medical costs, increase access to low-cost drugs

Rep. Anthony Brindisi

Brindisi: This will eliminate out-of-pocket drug costs for millions of seniors

Congressman Anthony Brindisi continued his efforts to reduce drug costs by joining Reps. Scott Peters (CA-52) and Pete King (NY-02) to introduce the bipartisan Acting to Cancel Copays and Ensure Substantial Savings for Biosimilars Act.

The legislation, supported by Democrats and Republicans, would eliminate a patient’s copay for a biosimilar if they normally would pay full cost of a biologic drug under Medicare Part B; the bill will drive down medical costs by increasing access to lower-cost biosimilar drugs and give Americans more treatment options.

Like generic drugs, biosimilars offer a lower-cost opportunity to treat expensive diseases and illnesses. They are some of the most innovative physician-administered drugs and are successfully treating complex diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration deemed approved biosimilars to be as safe and effective as their biologic counterparts, but many are still not available to Americans.

“Every day I hear from Upstate New Yorkers who cannot afford the medication they need, and it is way past time for Democrats and Republicans to take action,” Brindisi said. “Our bill will eliminate out of pocket costs for millions of seniors. I am proud to work with Rep. Peters and Rep. King on this legislation to help increase competition and bring drug costs down for seniors and working families.”

“San Diego is home to a world-class life science sector that is uncovering new ways to improve and save lives,” Peters said. “The government can and should drive down drug costs and one way we can do that is by increasing competition. If we eliminate copays on biosimilars, it will increase their widespread use and provide a market incentive to drive down overall drug costs. I am committed to lowering health care costs and expanding treatment options for all Americans, and the bipartisan ACCESS Act does just that.”

“This legislation represents an important step toward containing drug prices for some of the most expensive therapies,” King said.  “By increasing patient access and encouraging development of more biosimilars this legislation would save Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers billions of dollars.”

In Europe, more than 40 biosimilar products are available. The Congressional Research Service reports that while less than 2 percent of Americans use biologics, they account for 40 percent of total spending on prescription drugs. The RAND Corporation estimates biosimilars could save the United States as much as $54 billion over the next decade. The ACCESS Act advances the goals of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA), which Congress passed in 2010, to provide a new regulatory pathway to license and approve biosimilars.

Earlier this year, Brindisi held roundtables on lowering drug costs and joined AARP for a prescription drug forum. Additionally, Brindisi joined Democrats and Republicans to outline principles for legislation to increase transparency and competition in the drug marketplace.

Brindisi worked with Republican Congressman John Joyce (PA-13) to introduce the Ensuring Timely Access to Generics Act (H.R. 2455), a bipartisan bill to crack down on tactics used by pharmaceutical companies to delay generic drugs from coming to market.

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