BIO Expresses Disappointment with House Vote on H.R. 4

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 12, 2007) – The Biotechnology Industry Organization expressed disappointment on today’s vote in the House of Representatives on H.R. 4, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007, and urged the Senate to oppose similar legislative efforts such as S. 250, the Medicare Enhancements for Needed Drugs Act of 2007.

“Today’s House vote on H.R. 4 marks a disappointing step backward in public health policy. H.R. 4, as well as S. 250, would effectively reduce patient access to therapies and thereby provide inferior health care to our nation’s seniors and the disabled,” stated BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood. “The Medicare prescription drug benefit has provided affordable prescription medication to more than 38 million Americans, the overwhelming majority of whom are saving more than $1,200 per year and who are satisfied with the plan they have chosen. Due to negotiations between drug benefit plan providers and drug manufacturers, premiums are lower than expected – as is the cost to the federal government.”

Both the House and Senate bills would strike the language in the Medicare Modernization Act which prohibits the federal government from interfering with the negotiations between drug manufacturers, pharmacies and plan sponsors and replace it with a requirement to interfere in this process. These negotiations are currently conducted between Medicare prescription drug plans and manufacturers.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently reported that these private sector negotiations resulted in an additional $113 billion reduction in the estimated cost of the Part D program, and the actuaries found that $96 billion in reductions was due to competition.

S. 250 would require that the federal government negotiate with manufacturers for the prices of “single source drugs without therapeutic equivalents.” Single source drugs are innovative therapies marketed by a single manufacturer under a brand name that are without generic versions. This category of products includes “first-in-class” medicines that represent the latest medical advances over deadly and debilitating diseases, as well as therapies for previously untreatable rare disorders.

”The goal of government policy should be to promote, not discourage, the development of breakthrough therapies that target unmet clinical needs and improve upon existing treatment options,” stated Greenwood. “S. 250 would specifically target innovative products, including drugs for rare disorders, and would have a chilling effect on the capital markets. This legislation could reverse the remarkable strides made toward the discovery of cures for previously untreatable patient populations by deterring the use of such medicines once they reach the market.”

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.