SACRAMENTO — California pharmacists would be allowed to dispense substitute medications that are biologically similar to brand-names under a bill that has cleared the state Assembly.
Biological medicines are created from living cells rather than by mixing chemicals. Unlike traditional generic medications, the so-called biosimilars resemble but are not identical to the biological medication they are replicating.
Under legislation by Democratic Sen. Jerry Hill of San Mateo, pharmacists could substitute a potentially cheaper biosimilar medication if approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The pharmacy must notify the doctor who issued the prescription if a substitute is dispensed.
Several large biotech companies are among the bill’s supporters. Opponents, including the state Board of Pharmacy, say state rules should wait until the FDA has established regulations.
SB598 passed the Assembly 58-4 Monday and returns to the Senate for a final vote.