Provisions in the Senate Health Care Bill Help Patients, Promote Innovation, Encourage Job Growth

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Friday, December 25, 2009) - Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) President and CEO Jim Greenwood released the following statement on today’s vote by the Senate to pass “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009”:


“The health care reform bill passed today by the Senate includes many provisions which serve as early Christmas presents for patients living with debilitating diseases such as cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and a host of rare diseases.  These provisions are a triumph for sick patients and their families.  They are important steps toward realizing the critical broad goals of health care reform, namely reducing costs, expanding access and promoting continued medical breakthroughs that lead to new, improved and more efficient treatments for patients.


“This bill establishes, for the first time ever, a pathway to allow for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of biosimilars, sometimes inaccurately referred to as ‘biogenerics’.  Through this provision, authored by Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), patients with devastating diseases will have increased access to safe and effective life-saving advanced therapies and can take comfort in the knowledge that this bill will accelerate the biotechnology sector’s drive toward discovering new treatments, therapies and cures for diseases that have plagued us for years.  We look forward to working with these senators to ensure a biosimilars pathway is created, and that the House provisions pertaining to patent resolution are included in the final bill. 


“The Senate bill also provides relief to investment-starved small biotechnology research companies by creating a therapeutic discovery project tax credit. This proposal, authored and championed by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), would support small and emerging biotechnology companies by providing a tax credit to help offset a portion of resources spent on therapeutic development activities, including hiring scientists and conducting clinical studies. These credits would help sustain projects that likely will lead to new therapies to treat areas of unmet medical need, address chronic or acute diseases, reduce long-term health care costs, or significantly advance President Obama’s challenge to cure cancer in our lifetime.  This provision will create and save thousands of U.S. jobs.  It is our strong hope that any final bill contains this pro-innovation, pro-job therapeutic discovery tax credit provision.


“Similarly, Senator Arlen Specter’s (D-PA) Cures Acceleration Network (CAN), established under the Senate bill, will help speed the development of next generation medicines, treatments and cures by providing federal grants to promising projects in the public, private, academic and research communities.  This provision also will help expedite FDA review of highly innovative safe and effective treatments for patients.


“These provisions mean increased access for the patients of today and renewed hope for the patients of tomorrow.  In addition, they will help create high-wage, high-value jobs in our nation’s burgeoning biotech sector and help maintain U.S. global leadership in innovation.


“Innovation in health care - including new therapies, vaccines and diagnostics - has always been and will continue to be central to an improved health care system.  We recognize Senate leadership - along with members of the Senate Finance and HELP Committees, including Finance Committee Chair Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) - for their tireless work on this issue.  We will continue to work with both the House and the Senate in pursuit of a final bill that reduces costs and increases access to quality care while preserving the incentives necessary to ensure new and improved therapies.”