TESTIMONY – STATE BIOSIMILAR SUBSTITUTION
Oregon House of Representatives Committee on Health Care
Committee on Health Care consideration of HB 2026
Anna Marie Meyer
Global Healthy Living Foundation
March 16, 2015
I have no disclosures to make regarding my travel here today. The Global Healthy Living Foundation accepts grants and charitable contributions from pharmaceutical companies, government, private foundations and individuals. We have received scientific briefings from pharmaceutical companies, as well as from our independent medical advisory board.
Good afternoon. Chairman Greenlick and Vice-Chairman Hayden, I’d like to thank you for allowing me to speak today. My name is Anna Marie Meyer. I am a single mom. I was born in Laurelhurst and now live in Happy Valley. The legislators who serve my community are Senator Olsen and Representative Kennemer – who I am happy to see, is a member of this committee. I’m here today representing myself, CreakyJoints, an arthritis support organization which is part of the Global Healthy Living Foundation, and other people in Oregon who are, or will be taking biologics and biosimilars.
I am here today to express my firm opposition to House Bill 2026.
I have taken biologics and had adverse reactions to them, as well as to other drugs, including antibiotics. On March 4th I provided public comments before the Senate Committee on Health Care in support of Senate Bill 147 which also deals with the substitution of interchangeable biosimilars. I supported Senate Bill 147 because it contains notification requirements between pharmacists, physicians, and patients. These provisions are incredibly important to me because if physicians had not known exactly what drug I was taking, including the name of my biologics, when I had a severe adverse reaction, I could have died. Both I and the treatment team taking care of me knew every drug I was taking and considered these drugs when they were saving my life.
Not only does House Bill 2026 lack critical notification requirements, further, it actually repeals existing law that requires a pharmacist to notify a patient like me if my biologic is switched.
So as you can see, in my mind this is not an argument reserved for corporations, their products, profits, or interests. It is an argument about people and what information we need in order to feel better, to control our chronic illness, and to stay alive when the worst happens.
I want to be very clear when I say that I am not here to talk about whether biosimilars should or should not be on the market or whether insurance companies should be able to influence what drug a patient takes. If a drug is approved by the FDA, I assume it is safe and effective. If my insurance company wants to switch a drug that the FDA says it can switch, I trust the FDA’s decision and will take that drug. I am only asking that I, and my doctor, know what drug that is.
I’m an Oregon citizen who is alive today because my doctor and I knew what drugs I was taking. As patients we don’t want to give that up. And as compassionate legislators, you can’t let that happen.
Some have suggested that physicians can prevent substitution by marking “dispense as written” on the prescription. As a former nurse who has been involved at the point of care, I think this really misses the point. “Dispense as written” should be a clinical decision by a doctor based on personalized information about each patient. If it is used to get around simple notification of substituted drugs, neither patients nor doctors will have access to any biosimilar unless the physician specifically requests it. This means the billions of dollars biosimilars promise to save will be lost simply because a pharmacist doesn’t want to notify a physician when a substitution is made.
As patients we don’t want to prevent or deter substitution. We love the expanded options and cost savings that biosimilars represent. But HB 2026 will force doctors to dispense as written and therefore deter substitution.
GHLF and I urge the members of this Committee to oppose House Bill 2026 because it does not put the patient first. In fact, it works to remove the patient from the health care decision-making process and restrict access to the most important biologic development in the past 20 years.
We commend this committee for realizing the importance of creating a pathway in Oregon for more affordable interchangeable biosimilars to enter the state. However, we must make sure it is done safely and responsibly. House Bill 2026 puts patient safety in jeopardy by keeping physicians in the dark on what drugs their patients have received.
I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of my remarks and I would be pleased to provide any further information that you may require. Thank you for your time and attention.