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After a two-year process calling on New York State lawmakers to update patient protections surrounding biologic treatments, U.S. Pain Foundation is pleased to announce that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a biologic substitution bill, Chapter 357 of the Laws of 2017.

Earlier in the state’s legislative session, U.S. Pain reached out to senators and the Assembly, urging them to support Senate Bill 4788 and its companion bill. The legislation secured effective medication substitution laws while also allowing patients to access this new age of medicines in a safe, reliable, and consistent manner.

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With the state legislative session winding down, U.S. Pain would like to provide highlights of what took place and what is still in the works when it comes to biologics and biosimilar bills. U.S. Pain is pleased to share that the interchangeable biosimilars bill in New York, S4788, passed the state legislature last week. Calls were made to Senators in an effort to ensure support of this legislation, which would enact provisions relating to substitutions of biological products by pharmacists. It is now awaiting delivery to the governor.

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Arntsen discusses her treatment needs.

To help educate the public, Patients for Biologics Safety and Access (PBSA), a coalition that U.S. Pain Foundation belongs to, has created four videos sharing the stories of patients who are managing their chronic conditions through biologics and biosimilars. The stories featured are:

  • Jan Wyatt, a patient advocate from Virginia living with rheumatoid arthritis. who believes only patients and doctors should be making choices about their treatment plans.
  • Kathleen Arntsen, president and CEO of Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, is a powerful national patient advocate from New York living with multiple autoimmune diseases, including lupus. She works with other patient advocates to make their voices heard in critical patient safety policy discussions.
  • “Seeing is believing,” says Joy Ross, a mother off two daughters from Washington state. Joy is a patient advocate who has been living with rheumatoid arthritis since childhood and wants to help patients share their stories.
  • Larry LaMotte, vice president of public policy for the Immune Deficiency Foundation, discusses the difference between biologics and biosimilars and how this emerging class of treatments could affect patient safety.

“As these videos show, biosimilars must be approved in a way that minimizes patient risk and creates patient and provider trust in these important new treatments,” says Shaina Smith, U.S. Pain director of state advocacy and alliance development. “PBSA and U.S. Pain Foundation’s goal in sharing these videos is to be sure the patient voice is heard and the need for better patient protections is met. We encourage you to share them with your networks via social media.”

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Thoms testifying.

Although still a newer technology in the medical field, biosimilars remain an ongoing priority topic for U.S. Pain Foundation. The 2017 legislative session has seen 13 states take up the task of approving legislation pertaining to biosimilar products. U.S. Pain’s state advocacy team has been diligently tracking bills relating to this treatment option, with one bill bringing advocacy efforts all the way to the state of Alaska. But before turning the spotlight to Alaska, where pain ambassador-advocates testified on biosimilar legislation on Feb. 10, let’s first take a closer look at biologic and biosimilar products.

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U.S. Pain Foundation spoke out on two important federal issues this month with articles in the National Pain Report. The first article, published Jan. 11,  discussed the potential Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal, while a second article highlighted new biosimilar and biologic naming guidelines and was published Jan. 24.

In the ACA story, U.S. Pain joined many other patient advocacy organizations in expressing concern over the potential repeal without details for a replacement. Written by Shaina Smith, director of advocacy and alliance development, on behalf of U.S. Pain, the article emphasized the importance of access to quality, affordable insurance for chronic pain patients.

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