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brownsandiego.jpgGov. Jerry Brown on Saturday vetoed a controversial bill that would have regulated how pharmacists distribute a new type of drug called "biosimilars" once they are approved by the federal government.

Senate Bill 598, by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, would have required pharmacists to notify prescribing doctors when substituting a biosimilar for brand-name biologic products, including vaccines and complex medications for diseases such as cancer.

Brown said in his veto message that he supports the use of biosimilars, and he appeared to be perplexed by the controversy surrounding the requirement that pharmacists notify prescribing physicians when using them.

"This requirement, which on its face looks reasonable, is for some reason highly controversial," Brown wrote. "Doctors with whom I have spoken would welcome this information. CalPERS and other large purchasers warn that the requirement itself would cast doubt on the safety and desirability of more cost-effective alternatives to biologics."

Brown said that because the federal government has not yet issued standards for the use of biosimilars, the legislation "strikes me as premature."

The bill was heavily lobbied, supported by drug companies and opposed by several health plans and manufacturers of generic drugs. Companies on both sides donated money to the Democratic governor's re-election campaign account after the Legislature sent Brown the bill.

Supporters had said the regulation would protect consumers, while opponents said it would hinder access to low-cost replacements.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at an event in San Diego on Oct. 10, 2013. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi


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