BIO Responds To New Kennedy/Stark Medicare Bill

(WASHINGTON, D.C., April 20, 1999) Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, issued the following statement on a legislative proposal, unveiled today, by U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) to provide prescription drug coverage under Medicare:

"The good news is the legislative initiative announced today by Sen. Kennedy backs away from the drug price controls contained in the bill he introduced last month as the Senate companion to misguided legislation from U.S. Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine).

"This is an important signal from Kennedy and the Democratic Party to realize and acknowledge that government price control legislation is not a workable solution to the issue of providing a Medicare drug benefit.

"This bill is the first of many that will be introduced this year concerning drug benefits for seniors. Aspects of it may be part of the ultimate solution. But before we comment any further on the Kennedy/Stark proposal we will evaluate it more closely.

"BIO favors helping seniors gain better access to biotech drugs. We and our member companies will judge any legislative attempt to achieve improving access by whether it encourages, not undermines, the ability of biotech companies to develop innovative drugs now and in the future."

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 and environmental biotechnology products.