BIO Launches Radio Ads On Drug Benefits For Seniors

WASHINGTON, D.C., (July 27, 1999) The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) launched radio advertisements today to help focus Congress and the public on two key issues in the debate over expanding prescription drug coverage to Medicare beneficiaries.

The first issue is helping seniors pay for medicines when catastrophe strikes -- when they are sickest and need help the most. The second is preventing government agencies, such as the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), from setting prices for medicines and limiting access to them.

"We wholeheartedly favor ensuring that seniors have access to biotech drugs and vaccines," said BIO President Carl B. Feldbaum. "But the proposals should focus on meaningful policy reforms, not just the politics of providing a minimum benefit to the most voters. Any plan should take care of the sickest seniors who need financial assistance the most before extending new benefits to the Ross Perots and Lee Iacoccas of our nation.

"We also urge Congress and the president to adopt a plan that encourages biotech innovation by retaining our nation's market-driven drug pricing system. Otherwise biotech companies will not be able to raise the hundreds of millions of dollars it takes to develop a single drug. Many of the medicines biotech companies are producing target diseases that afflict Medicare beneficiaries the most, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, age-related cancers and osteoporosis."

The radio advertisements will air in the morning and afternoon for two weeks, beginning today, on two Washington, D.C. stations, WTOP AM/FM and WMAL AM. The text of the advertisements is posted on BIO's website at under a section titled 'Medicare modernization'.

BIO represents more than 850 biotechnology companies, academic institutions and state biotechnology centers in 47 states and 26 nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

Text of Radio Ads

BIO Radio Spot I (60 seconds)

Woman: I am a retired school teacher looking forward to a long, healthy life. I want to see my grandchildren grow up.

Lately, I've been reading a lot about new drugs coming from biotechnology research.

These biotech companies are developing new treatments for Alzheimer's, osteoporosis, cancer, heart and other diseases. Sounds like biotech could help make my life longer and better -- and help me keep up with my grandchildren.

I've got Medicare coverage now, but I don't have a lot of extra money to spend on prescription drugs.

President Clinton says his new drug plan will help me if I get sick. Well I've done my own research, and Clinton's plan won't do much for me if I get really sick and need the newest, most effective medicines.

And I don't want a big government agency to set drug policy. That could mean that I might not be able to get the drugs I need. I want my doctor to make those decisions.

I don't know if all this is just politics, but what people like me need is a plan that helps me pay for my medicines when I am the sickest and need help the most. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Announcer: This message was brought to you by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

BIO Radio Spot 2 (60 seconds)

Husband: My wife and I are retired and we rely on Medicare to cover our health care bills.

Wife: We're pretty healthy now, knock on wood, but I'm worried about later on as we get older. We don't have a lot of extra money to spend on prescription drugs.

Husband: We keep ourselves pretty well-informed. We know there are new biotech drugs being developed for osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, heart disease and cancer.

Wife: These biotech drugs are the most advanced medicines, and if they can keep us out of the hospital I want to make sure we can get them.

Husband: We think its great Congress and the President want to finally give Medicare beneficiaries drug coverage.

Wife: What the folks in Washington are missing is that those of us who worked so hard to build a modest nest egg are worried it won't be enough when we really get sick. The president's plan and the other proposals in Congress need to take care of the sickest, and then the rest of us, before they provide new benefits to the Ross Perots and Lee Iacoccas.

Husband: I don't know if the president and others are playing politics with our healthcare. But what we seniors need is a real drug benefit; one that helps out those who aren't rich when they need it the most.

Announcer: This message was brought to you by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.