On December 2nd, ASBM sent a letter to House leaders reiterating our opposition to a proposal that would undermine the patient-physician relationship and distort the making of treatment decisions. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Rules has released new language for H.R. 5376 containing a provision that would pay physicians a 33% bonus for prescribing their patient the government-preferred biosimilar.

The bill calls for a “temporary increase in Medicare Part B payments for certain biosimilars,” that would increase the reimbursement to physicians from 6% above average sale price (ASP) to 8%- if they prescribe the biosimilar.

Biosimilars have already achieved significant US market share, around 80% for filgrastim biosimilars, 70% for trastuzumab and bevacizumab biosimilars, and 55% for rituximab biosimilars. As more become available, the increased competition has driven down prices of both biosimilars and innovator biologics.

Despite these successes, supporters of artificially incentivizing biosimilar uptake have continued to insert this provision into several bills in recent years. From the letter:

Treatment decisions can and should take into consideration a number of factors, including economic factors such as the affordability of the drug for the patient, but the physician-patient relationship could be seriously undermined when physicians are rewarded financially for choosing one medicine over another. Every patient should be confident that their physician will prescribe the product that is in their best interest, not the one that is the most profitable to the physician personally.

We share the goal of increasing biosimilar uptake and increasing patient access to biologic therapies.

We also firmly believe this proposal is unnecessary, misguided, and potentially harmful. Instead, all products should continue to compete on a level playing field. Advantaging one manufacturer’s product over another not only distorts the treatment-decision making process and undermines the physician-patient relationship, but also undermines the competition-based policies that are currently lowering prices and expanding patient access.

Read ASBM’s full letter here.

Read the current text of H.R. 5376 here.