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Jim Greenwood in New York Times: Specialty Tiers Limit Patient Access

May 12, 2015

Today, the New York Times published a letter from Jim Greenwood, BIO’s President and CEO. Greenwood’s letter discusses the problems that expanded use of specialty tier cost-sharing by the insurance industry are posing for patients, limiting their access to lifesaving therapies and cures. Breakthrough treatments cost billions of dollars, and investors will only take on such risks if they can expect a reasonable return on their investment.

The full text of the letter is below:

To the Editor:

Re “Runaway Drug Prices” (editorial, May 5): If you are truly concerned about the problems faced by patients seeking access to needed medicines, you would do well to explore the insurance industry’s recent expansion of the use of specialty tier cost-sharing, in which patients must pay a relatively high percentage of their drug costs rather than a flat co-payment.

This approach can cost patients thousands of dollars out of pocket, and in effect limit their access to medicines. Further, this practice injects a third party between doctor and patient when determining the best course of treatment.

You rightly note that the discovery of breakthrough cures and treatments is a result of billions of dollars in investments and often involves many failures along the way. These vast sums must be raised from investors who are willing to take significant risks. They will do this only if there is an expectation of reasonable returns.

We need to look at the outdated, cumbersome and inefficient insurance model that inhibits access to lifesaving treatments and cures. Patients deserve nothing less.


President and Chief Executive

Biotechnology Industry Organization