October found the state in full gear working on trying to find a solution to the road situation in Michigan. This left a lot of the health issues and others on the back burner for many different groups including ACS CAN. The House Health Policy Committee did consider one issue that ACS CAN has some interest in; Bio-similars.
Biologic drugs are a classification of drugs that are made through a process that involved a living organism. The process uses that living organism to create the active ingredient in the drug that will be used to fight whatever the drug has been approved for. Biological drugs have been used to treat breast cancer and other cancers so access to these critical medications is crucial. Today, the science is evolving and how biologic drugs are being made is changing. Many manufactures are creating what’s called a Bio-similar medication. That drug is similar to the biologic that it is trying to replicate but not quite the same thing.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created regulations that govern these bio-similar products creating two classifications, bio-similars and interchangeable bio-similars, which are even closer in resemblance to the primary biological drug. These drugs are usually less costly to the patients, making access to them extremely important. Michigan does not have any regulations that would allow these drugs to come to market and the first bio-similar is about to hit store shelves here in the next couple months, therefore regulation of these products is needed.
House Bill 4812 was introduced by Representative John Bizon, a physician from Battle Creek, to provide regulations around bio-similars. A critical part of his legislation provided an avenue for physicians and pharmacists to communicate when an interchangeable bio-similar is changed out for a biologic. For safety reasons physicians have the knowledge if there is a switch and the patient has an adverse reaction. For the patient it can provide a piece of mind that the physician knows what is happening with their care. Another piece of legislation was introduced, House Bill 4437, which we oppose that does not provide the communication piece in the legislation.
The House Health Policy Committee took testimony on House Bill 4437 with the majority of the testimony being against the legislation. ACS CAN provided written testimony explaining our support for communication for safety and peace of mind. We expect the House committee to take up HB 4812 since there is a lack of support for HB 4437.
This past month we also had our second meeting of the Michigan Palliative Care Summit. Health leaders from around the state met in Lansing and began work on a road map to quality palliative care in Michigan. Close to twenty health care professionals and patient advocates participated in the great work that was done. We are hopeful that with all of the great notes that were taken by each work group a draft document can be created to provide the road map that Michigan needs.
Lastly, Michigan has leveraged Breast Cancer Awareness month to push Governor Snyder to increase funding for the Cancer Prevention Program. Michigan’s Cancer Prevention Program houses the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program. This program is vital to making sure all women have access to the screenings and follow-up care necessary to make an accurate cancer diagnoses and secure the proper treatment. Volunteers from around the state have been collecting postcards throughout the month asking the Governor to increase funding by $2 million in his next budget. Over 2,000 postcards have been sent to the Governor so far.