Letter to the editor | Life-saving legislation

November 8, 2013 

As a metastatic melanoma cancer survivor, I am alive today because my doctors treated me with an aggressive “biologic” drug called Interleukin II.

That’s why I so passionately support Pennsylvania House Bill 746 and Senate Bill 405, which address the important issue of biosimilar substitution and are designed to protect patients, like me, whose lives may depend on access to these cutting-edge therapies.

I am enjoying remission. However, HB 746 and SB 405 would guarantee that if I ever again require treatment with a biologic, my physician would be notified before I could be switched to a “biosimilar” medication.

Why is this so important?

As Andrew Spiegel explained in a recent article, biologics are developed to treat people who do not respond to traditional chemically based drugs. Biosimiliars are not generic versions of biologics.

Because of this, a patient’s response and side effects from the drug may be different from how the patient responded to the original biologic.

All medical decisions should be between me and my doctor, who is the only one who understands the complexity of my medical history and needs.

I urge support of these bills to protect patients like me whose very lives may depend on getting the exact right biologic that only their physician knows is the most effective and best treatment for them.

Sharon K. Swanger, Hershey

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