US Senate unanimously approves two bills aiming to lower drug prices
Pexels / Pixabay
US Senate unanimously approves two bills aiming to lower drug prices

The US Senate unanimously passed the Ensuring Innovation Act and the Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act Thursday, two pieces of bipartisan legislation aiming to lower prescription drug prices by increasing competition.

The Ensuring Innovation Act addresses loopholes used by companies to maintain the exclusive right to sell a drug. A company holds an exclusive right to sell a drug for a designated length of time when the company invents the drug. Companies will attempt to claim new inventions on that same drug to prolong their exclusivity to sell. The extended exclusivity prevents less expensive generics from being sold.

Under the Ensuring Innovation Act, companies cannot be awarded exclusivity to sell if the new innovations are not true innovations. The false claim of innovation improperly prevents less expensive generics from being sold. “Innovation means taking steps to make medications more effective,” Senator Tina Smith explained.

The Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act aims to increase competition and decrease the prices of biologic drugs by enhancing education on biosimilar drugs. Biologic drugs treat serious or chronic conditions. Biosimilar drugs are manufactured by different companies. There are no meaningful clinical differences between biological drugs and biosimilar drugs. Senator Maggie Hassan explained that the Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act “will help lower the cost of health care by educating more . . . Americans about biosimilars – an under-the-radar alternative to expensive brand name drugs.”

Under the Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act, patients and providers would receive educational materials. The education would help improve confidence in the safety and effectiveness of biosimilar drugs, leading to increased use of the drugs. The increased use may increase health care savings.