Price Controls Will Hurt Patients, Biotech Innovation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 11, 2000) Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement concerning a proposal by New England legislators to impose drug price controls in their region as a means of expanding access to medicines.

"The biotech industry wholeheartedly supports improving access to itsmedicines for all patients, especially for those who suffer the most and are the most in need," BIO President Carl B. Feldbaum said. "However, imposing price controls, direct or indirect, is the most wrongheaded approach.

"Price controls will wreak havoc on the biotech industry's ability to raise private capital to support innovative drug development and to bring life-saving medicines to patients. It takes hundreds of millions of dollars and up to 10 years to develop a single drug. Last year, the biotech industry spent about $10 billion on research and development and recorded a net loss of $5 billion. Most research-stage biotech companies do not yet have products on the market. Consequently, they have no revenues or profits to fund their breakthrough research. These companies are dependent on private investors for most or all of their funding.

"During the last health-care reform debate in 1993-94, proposals involving price controls reduced private investment in biotech companies and slowed their efforts to bring new drugs to patients," Feldbaum added.

"New England is home to many biotech companies. These companiesare part of a U.S. biotech industry that leads the world in developing breakthrough drugs, many of them first-ever treatments, for our most intractable diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and AIDS.

"Any attempt to improve access to drugs should encourage, notdiscourage biotech research and development. Biotech innovation is the key not only for improving our health, but also for ultimately lowering our health care costs."