WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 5, 2000) - A report released today documents that biotechnology drugs already on the market have a major impact on eight particularly devastating age-related diseases and that medicines in development for those illnesses represent even greater promise for improving the health and quality of life of men and women approaching or in their "baby-boomer" years.
"This report demonstrates biotechnology has the most to offer those who are elderly in terms of improving their health and quality of life and to those who will confront these problems in coming years. In the debate over increasing seniors' access to prescription drugs, I urge Congress to consider the contributions of the biotechnology industry and the impact policy decisions will have on biotech companies," said Carl B. Feldbaum, President of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
"The biotech industry, made up mostly of small companies that depend on private investment to support their research, would be the most vulnerable to Medicare reform that relies on government to provide drug coverage. Such reform likely would result in artificial price controls that could discourage private investment and slow the efforts of biotech companies to develop the very life-saving medicines seniors need."
The 100-page report, titled "Biotechnology's Impact on Diseases of the Elderly: A White Paper", was prepared for BIO by PAREXEL International Medical Marketing Services. It examines 20 drugs on the market and 57 others in development for coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, chronic renal failure, diabetes and osteoporosis. These illnesses are among the most life-threatening conditions that affect an aging population.
"In diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, for which few treatments are available, biotech therapies in development offer the best hope," said Feldbaum. "And biotech drugs on the market for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and kidney failure are in some cases the first-ever treatments and in other cases dramatically improve patients' quality of life in combination with traditional therapies.
"In addition to improving the health of an aging population, all the biotech medicines highlighted in this report are designed to reduce the need for expensive hospitalization and nursing home care. In some instances, the report documents per-patient cost savings achieved by biotech drugs.
"BIO wants all Medicare beneficiaries, now and in the future, to have affordable access to biotech drugs and diagnostics. The best way to achieve this is by providing seniors and the disabled who don't have drug benefits with access to private-sector coverage that includes stop-loss provisions limiting their out-of-pocket expenses when they are the sickest and their medical bills are the highest.
"People of all ages must be concerned and involved with this decision. Baby boomers in particular will be affected because the outcome will determine not only the care their parents can receive now, but also the care they will have access to themselves.
"Among the measures now before Congress, Breaux-Frist 2000 and several House bills satisfy many of the key principles BIO has identified as essential for improving the health of seniors and encouraging continuation of biotechnology's innovative drug development."
"Biotechnology's Impact on Diseases of the Elderly" is available on BIO's Web site (www.bio.org). Printed copies may be obtained by calling BIO's Carrie Housman at (202) 962-9200.
BIO represents more than 900 biotech companies, academic institutions and state biotech centers in all 50 U.S. states and in 26 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.
PAREXEL International Corporation is one of the largest contract pharmaceutical outsourcing organizations in the world, providing a broad range of knowledge-based contract research, medical marketing and consulting services to the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. PAREXEL's Medical Marketing Services division provides health economics and outcomes research, reimbursement consulting and other marketing-related services.