BIO: House Approval Of GOP Drug Plan Represents An Important Step In Right Direction For Seniors

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 29, 2000) - Nancy Myers, health-care policy counsel for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), said House approval of a Republican plan to expand prescription drug coverage to Medicare beneficiaries is a positive step forward in making sure Medicare-eligible seniors and the disabled have access to the medicines they need.

"The GOP bill addressed two of BIO's key principles, "Myersobserved. "It includes stop-loss coverage, an issue that is receiving bipartisan support, and it uses competitive private-sector delivery systems. Stop-loss coverage limits seniors out of pocket expenses when they are the sickest and their bills are the highest.

"BIO's members are the companies working the hardest todevelop innovative medicines for age-related illnesses, such as heart disease, various cancers, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's," Myers added. "We want Medicare beneficiaries to have affordable access to advanced drugs and vaccines that are on the market today and those that will be on the market in the future.

"Nearly 100 biotech medicines already are on the market. Manyof these medicines represent first-of-a-kind treatments for heart disease, various cancers, arthritis, kidney failure, diabetes and stroke. In some cases, these drugs have directly reduced overall health-care costs associated with these illnesses.

"Another 350 biotech drugs and vaccines are in late-stage clinicaltrials. Many of them target age-related diseases. These medicines, those on the market and in development, improve the health and quality of life for seniors. Consequently, these treatments also reduce costs associated with expensive hospitalization and nursing home care.

"Any reforms of Medicare should encourage the biotechindustry's continued development of new medicines, not discourage it."

BIO represents more than 900 biotechnology companies,academic institutions and state biotech centers in 49 states and 26 nations. Its members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.