Gorton Bill Will Result In Price Controls, Hurting Seniors, Not Helping Them

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 26, 2000) Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton’s (R-Wash.) proposed bill on prescription drug pricing.

Sen. Gorton’s bill, inadvertently we believe, would let othercountries determine the availability of new biotech drugs in the United States, Feldbaum said.

The practical effect of Sen. Gorton’s legislation would be toimpose price controls in the United States and artificially lower drug prices to conform with those in other nations. By doing so, Sen. Gorton would throw away our market-based health-care system. This would not only devalue the U.S. ‘golden’ standard of health care, but also empower other nations to dictate to us what level of medical innovation is acceptable.

Through his legislation, Sen. Gorton is apparently trying toimprove seniors’ access to prescription drugs. But price controls are not the answer. They will harm biotech companies, including those in Sen. Gorton’s home state, Feldbaum added.

Price controls discourage private sector investment in biotechresearch and development, and will severely impede the progress being made by biotech companies in finding new therapies for our most intractable and life-threatening diseases, many of which afflict seniors the most. Most biotech companies are working on new therapies and cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, breast, ovarian and prostate cancers, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis.

The critical debate over seniors’ access to drugs should focus oninsurance coverage, not price controls.

BIO supports greatly improving seniors access to drugs andvaccines by making sure they have access to drug insurance coverage. And any legislation should first provide those who are the sickest and neediest with affordable drug coverage. Further, all seniors should be able to choose for themselves from among as many competing benefit plans as possible, and not be forced to accept whatever the government decides is feasible.

We urge both Democrats and Republicans to resist thetemptation of signing on to a ‘quick fix’ to satisfy party politics in this presidential election year.

BIO represents more than 900 companies, academic institutions and state biotech 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.