(WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 1999) Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) issued the following statement on the Medical Information Protection Act of 1999 introduced yesterday by U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah:
"We say bravo to Sen. Bennett's legislative effort to establish national standards to protect the confidentiality of patients' medical records. His bill focuses on punishing the misuse of information rather than hindering research.
"This bill will safeguard patients' medical privacy and avoid unduly burdening biomedical research. In addition, Sen. Bennett's bill preempts the patchwork of state laws that provide inconsistent guidelines on patient medical privacy.
"Biotechnology researchers are developing new therapies and cures for our most devastating and intractable diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, various cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. Strong national standards to protect the confidentiality of medical records will encourage progress by assuring patients their medical histories remain private while allowing researchers access to the clinical data they need to conduct their potentially life-saving work.
"We encourage Congress to act on this issue prior to theAugust 1999 deadline established under the Health Insurance Portability Act. If federal legislative standards for confidentiality of patient records are not adopted by that deadline, the secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to implement regulations."
BIO's position statement on the confidentiality of patient medical records similar to Sen. Bennett's bill. The complete statement is posted on BIO's website (www.bio.org) in the Bioethics section.
(BIO represents more than 850 biotechnology companies, academic institutions and state biotechnology centers in 47 states and 26 nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural and environmental biotechnology products.)