Chris Hansen, ACS CAN President

A Blog From the ACS CAN President

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South Dakota Improves Access to Treatment Options Through Biosimilar Legislation

March 16, 2018

Last month in South Dakota, ACS CAN advocated for legislation to enhance patient access to biosimilar drugs, which offer safe and effective treatment options for many diseases including cancer.

Biosimilars are close copies of a biologic therapies tested to ensure they produce the same clinical result as the original drug. Biosimilars increase competition and choice for patients undergoing treatment for cancer and other chronic conditions.

Throughout the legislative process, ACS CAN staff testified in support of a bill that would allow for pharmacists to substitute an interchangeable biosimilar, as long as patients are properly notified and a record of the substitution is made available to the prescribing physicians within 7 days, citing the importance of transparency and safety for cancer patients. Staff also worked to educate lawmakers ahead of committee action about the importance of affordable biological cancer treatment options.

After receiving unanimous support in the Senate and House of Representatives, Governor Dennis Daugaard signed the bill into law on February 8, 2018. The bill in South Dakota will not only enhance patient access to new and potentially less costly medications, but also create an incentive for increased economic development by a biotechnology sector that has been rapidly growing in the state.

Beyond South Dakota, ACS CAN has worked and continues to work in states across the country to advance policy change that incentivizes costs savings while maintaining safety and outcomes for patients. In 2017 alone, ACS CAN worked to pass state legislation in ten states -- Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina and Wyoming. South Dakota together with Michigan bring the total number of states with legislation providing access to biosimilars to 38.

I’m proud of the work of our state team in South Dakota and look forward to passing biosimilar legislation in the remaining states to improve access to care in the cancer community.