BIO Calls for Restoration of Medicare Drug Coverage

Washington, D.C. (January 29, 2003) − Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to remarks made by President Bush during today’s address on his plans for providing coverage for prescription drugs:

“BIO is encouraged by the President’s call to establish Medicare coverage for outpatient prescription drugs. It is a top priority for 2003, and we urge the Congress to pass such legislation.”

“At the same time, the President and Congress cannot ignore the threat to current coverage for those drugs and biologics now covered by Medicare. Recent payment cuts made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for drugs and biologics administered in hospital outpatient settings threaten patient access to medications now covered by Medicare. Those cuts, which took effect Jan. 1, deter hospitals from providing senior citizens with newer and potentially safer and more effective products on the basis of cost.”

“In the long term, innovation in medicine is the most effective path to cost containment and also the best way to find new cures and therapies for the patients who need them — the missing point in the prescription drug debate.”

“Under the new bureaucratic process, some Medicare patients will have access only to yesterday’s medicines. Attempts at short-term fixes like this will delay new medicines in the long term. America’s seniors have lived far too long with a Medicare program based on 1965 health care. Let’s not freeze care for tomorrow’s seniors in a world of 2003 medical technology.”

“BIO wants to work with President Bush and the Congress to ensure that the promise of tomorrow’s medicines is available to seniors and all Americans.”

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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