Friday, February 27, 2009

Generic biologics! Thanks, POTUS!

This just in from the WSJ - Obama's new budget includes increased funding to fast track the creation of generic biologic drugs. Here's the article.

Why is this exciting, you may ask? Biologics (like Humira, Embrel, and Remicade) are the newest form of treatment for many of us with autoimmune diseases, and they are also prohibitively expensive. I'm very lucky that our family's insurance covers my Humira shot twice a month. According to one website, the cost of Humira runs $1662 a month. That's almost as much as our mortgage. My co-pay for it is already $60 a shot.

This item in the budget is great news for those of use who lead more normal lives thanks to biologics.

However, note this line in the last paragraph of the WSJ article:
Makers of brand-name biotech drugs say the copies aren't identical to the originals and should undergo rigorous examinations to ensure safety.
If I understand it, the process for making biologics is very organic. These drugs are cooked up in big vats, all started from the same set of cells etc. And there's essentially just one vat for each unique drug. It reminds me a bit of Oompa-loompas, or yogurt starter - you gotta have a little bit of the magic goop to make that exact drug. And unless drug companies are willing to share their magic goop, the generic drugs won't be exactly the same as the originals. So I suspect these generics are long time coming... lots of research needs to go into each one to ensure that it is safe and that it works.

But still, thanks POTUS, for being forward thinking.

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