Lawmakers send Brown bill on biosimilar medication

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Legislature is sending Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would allow pharmacists to substitute medications that are biologically similar to brand-name treatments.

The Senate approved SB598 by Sen. Jerry Hill on Wednesday, despite opponents’ claim that it would make it harder to dispense so-called biological medicines.

The drugs are created from living cells rather than by mixing chemicals and are often cheaper than brand-name drugs. They have been used to treat cancer and immune-system disorders.

Hill, a San Mateo Democrat, says he has never seen so many “outright lies” about a bill as on SB598.

Biotech companies and the California Medical Association are among the bill’s supporters.

Democratic Sen. Rod Wright of Los Angeles opposed the legislation. He says it is not really about patient safety, but rather “is all about the Benjamins.”

SB598 is opposed by the state Board of Pharmacy, at least in part because it contains a requirement that pharmacists notify a patient’s doctor when they substitute a biological medication for a biosimilar one.

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