BIO Urges Congress Not to Jeopardize Successful Medicare Drug Benefit

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 11, 2007) -- The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is urging Congress to vote against H.R. 4, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007. The House of Representatives is expected to consider this legislation tomorrow.

“H.R. 4 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 overwhelmingly 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.”

H.R. 4 strikes 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 replaces 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.

H.R. 4 also strikes protections from current law that prohibit the government from instituting a “price structure” for the reimbursement of drugs under Medicare. “Eliminating this protection will limit patient access to important breakthrough therapies through such mechanisms as tiered co-payments, prior authorization, and step therapy, and could ultimately lead to price controls which stifle innovation and harm future drug and biological discovery,” stated Greenwood.

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.

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