Generic Drugs under Siege by Biotech Firms Out to Reclaim Multi-Billion-Dollar Turf
Biotechnology companies are lobbying lawmakers across the country to prevent generic versions of biological drugs (or biosimilars) from reaching consumers in an effort to maintain high profit margins.
Name-brand biological drugs, made from living cells, constitute about 25% of the $320 billion spent on medications in the United States each year. Just as generic alternatives arose to non-biotech drugs, companies making biosimilars want to offer consumers a cheaper version of biological drugs, which can cost tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient.
But two biotech giants, Amgen and, Genentech are pushing legislation in at least eight statehouses that would limit the ability of pharmacists to substitute biosimilars for brand-name biological meds.
The biotech firms claim the bills are needed to protect patient safety because biosimilars are not identical to the originals (thus, the name biosimilar instead of generic).
Fighting the legislation are representatives of generic drug makers, who say the biotech industry’s effort could have a “chilling effect” on biosimilars, Brynna M. Clark, director of state affairs for the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, told The New York Times. Indeed, this reportedly has already begun to occur, as biosimilars’ uncertain future has slowed their development at some companies.
While biosimilars have been available in Europe for some time, their availability in the U.S.—if not forestalled by the biotech firms’ legal maneuvers—may still be a few years away.
To Learn More:
Biotech Firms, Billions at Risk, Lobby States to Limit Generics (by Andrew Pollack, New York Times)
World’s Largest Biotechnology Company Uses Team of 74 Lobbyists to Win Fiscal Cliff Gift (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Delaying Generic Drugs Costs Consumers Billions (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Bipartisan Bill Would Charge Fees to Makers of Generic Drugs, Raising More Than $1 Billion a Year (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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