Senate Attacks Patents After Failing to Pass Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 31, 2002) - Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) President Carl B. Feldbaum issued the following statement regarding today’s Senate passage of S. 812:

“It’s difficult to understand why the Senate sees an attack on American patents as an appropriate alternative to passage of a Medicare prescription drug coverage plan. Today’s Senate posturing, were it ever to be enacted, would only hurt the patients it claims to assist. The sad fact is that American seniors are left once again with no Medicare prescription drug coverage while the linchpin of American research and development, the patent system, is put under attack.

“S. 812 would topple the delicate balance within the prescription drug patent system, which, since the 1984 Hatch-Waxman Act, has helped speed the approval of generic drugs while maintaining the market incentives for innovators.

“The expansion of FDA authority over bioequivalency standards and the forfeiture of patent rights due to administrative technicalities are among BIO’s primary concerns with the legislation. Threatening patent protection is the wrong message, especially if the United States is to remain the world leader in biotechnology research and development.

“The Senate needs to focus on Medicare prescription drug coverage that utilizes private-sector delivery mechanisms and includes stop-loss coverage. We hope that they will return to this debate after the recess.”

BIO outlined problems with S. 812 in a July 15 letter to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), which can be found on BIO’s Web site at

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

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