Letter Opposing H. Res. 517

Letter from BIO to the U.S. House of Representatives strongly urging members not to sign the discharge petition (H. Res. 517) offered by the Democratic leadership that would bring the "Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act of 2001" (H.R. 1862/S.812) to the House floor for consideration.

September 20, 2002

The Honorable Dennis Hastert
U.S. House of Representatives
2369 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Hastert:

I am writing on behalf of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) to strongly urge members of the U.S. House of Representatives not to sign the discharge petition (H. Res. 517) offered by the Democratic leadership that would bring the "Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act of 2001" (H.R. 1862) to the House floor for consideration. H.R. 1862 would unquestionably harm the biotech industry by damaging critical patent protections, which in turn, would diminish the investment incentives critical to continued biotech research and development.

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotech companies, academic institutions and state biotech centers in all 50 states. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

The passage of this legislation will lead to the forfeiture of patent rights based on unreasonable administrative deadlines. In addition, the legislation would hold many small biotech companies hostage to unfettered litigation, shifting resources from biomedical research to unnecessary lawsuits. If enacted, this legislation will seriously undermine intellectual property protection for the biotech industry. As many small biotech companies do not yet have a product on the market, intellectual property is often their sole asset.

We believe it is critical for you to understand that this legislation creates significant commercial risks for our members. It is not applicable only to large pharmaceutical manufacturers. BIO's emerging companies are at the forefront of efforts to develop improved drug delivery technology, new and more effective formulations, and new drug combinations that will offer significant opportunities to address unmet medical needs. The commercial value of the patent rights we obtain for these new technologies will be zero if these rights can be so easily forfeited. The risks of patent forfeiture under such tenuous circumstances will also, without question, worsen the commercial environment of the biotechnology industry. As a result, investment capital will be driven away from research and development efforts that are essential to developing new and improved biotechnology products and therapies for America's patients.

If you have any questions please contact Sharon Cohen, Vice President, Government Relations at 202-962-9200 or scohen@bio.org.

Sincerely,

Carl B. Feldbaum
President
Biotechnology Industry Organization

CBF: sc