SENATE MISSES OPPORTUNITY TO PASS MEDICARE OUTPATIENT DRUG COVERAGE

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 23, 2002) - Biotechnology Industry Organization Vice President for Government Relations Sharon L. Cohen called the Senate’s lack of action today on Medicare prescription drug coverage “a missed opportunity.”

Two Medicare plans were offered as amendments to generic pharmaceuticals legislation, but neither generated the 60 votes required to move to debate.

“Instead of introducing Medicare prescription drug coverage legislation, such as that passed by the House last month, the Senate chose to focus on attacking patents for drugs and biologics,” said Cohen. “Attacking the American patent system does nothing to bring senior citizens the prescription drug coverage they need and want under Medicare,” she said.

BIO has developed a set of six principles for Medicare prescription drug coverage that are crucial to ensuring beneficiary access to breakthrough medications and to encouraging the continuation of research that makes these products possible. Earlier this year, the House passed legislation that met with most of BIO’s principles including stop-loss protection, and a reliance on market-based delivery solutions.

While neither the House version nor either Senate plan addressed all of BIO’s principles, “we are certain that most of our objectives in developing a plan to close this gap in our nation’s health-care system could have been met,” said Cohen. “We hope that the Senate will continue this debate, and provide seniors with appropriate prescription drug coverage,” she added.

BIO’s drug coverage and reimbursement policies, including the six core Medicare principles, are available online at www.bio.org.

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

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About BIO
BIO is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIOtechNOW is BIO's blog chronicling “innovations transforming our world” and the BIO Newsletter is the organization’s bi-weekly email newsletter. Subscribe to the BIO Newsletter.