Kennedy, Johnson Bill Could Cause Medicine Deficit


WASHINGTON, D.C., (March 31, 1999) Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement on legislation (S. 731) introduced recently by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Tim Johnson (D- S.D.):

"As both the House and Senate wrestle with ways to fix the Medicare deficit for the long term, they should be mindful that their quick fixes do not lead to a æmedicine deficit.'

"This legislation, a companion to the bill introduced by Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine), provides a short-term, short-sighted attempt to lower prescription drug prices for seniors, but in reality it will threaten biotech companies' development of the next generation of modern medicines, which are designed to help older citizens.

"BIO wholeheartedly supports helping older citizens gain better access to the latest therapies, but price controls, in whatever disguise they are presented, are counterproductive. The challenge is to make biotech drugs available to older citizens in an affordable manner without hindering our industry's ability to create new therapies and cures.

"Many biotech companies, still in the research stage, rely on venture capital to fund their innovative drug development. The threatof price controls, as we saw during the 1993-94 debate on healthcare reform, can drive down this investment.

"Any legislation aimed at improving access to prescription drugs for seniors should encourage, not discourage, new biotech drug development."

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