Consumer Groups, Med Students React to GOP Health Care Act Inclusion of Flawed Generic Biologic Drug Proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Following are comments from representatives of consumer, health and medical student groups, following the wholesale addition of the brand-name industry backed Eshoo-Barton-Inslee approach to generic biologic drugs by House Republican party leadership in their health care amendment, “The Affordable Health Care for America Act,” released today:

“It’s disappointing that the Republican Party which purports to be the party of free markets has decided to lend its support to a pro-monopoly, anti-competition, anti-innovation biogenerics proposal.” Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen, (202) 588-1000, [email protected]

“Today, it is unfortunately apparent that across party lines, special interest politics rather than evidence-based policies have prevailed. The democrats’ provisions on lifesaving biologic medicines—accepted verbatim by the Republicans today– contradicts the major objectives of health reform—to contain health care costs and expand access to health care.” Laura Musselwhite, medical student, Duke University, and member of www.AffordableMedsNow.org campaign of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), 336-908-6635, [email protected]

“The Republican health care bill allows insurance companies to continue to deny people coverage for pre-existing conditions. Of course they whole-heartedly approve of the Eshoo biologic drugs amendment — in both cases, it’s corporate profit over human life. Your own personal death panel becomes the size of your bank account.” Jane Hamsher, co-founder, Public Option Please (POP), (202) 248- 3155, [email protected] Join POP in the fight for affordable biologic medicines at http://publicoptionplease.com/home/.

“It looks like the only thing the Democrats and Republicans agree on relating to health care reform is the adoption of a generic biologic drugs proposal that will perversely block price-lowering generic competition. Unfortunately, this kind of bipartisanship will keep affordable versions of drugs like Roche-Genentech’s $48,000 per year blockbuster cancer treatment Herceptin out of American patients’ hands for far too long, or perhaps forever.” Sarah Rimmington, Attorney, Essential Action, Access to Medicines Project, (202) 422-2687, [email protected] Essential Action is a member of the www.AffordableMedsNow.org campaign.

“Perhaps we’d have greater bipartisan attention paid to access to affordable medicines for patients if the American people could afford to match the $1 million a day Pharma is spending on lobbying Congress. Members of Congress need to look at the evidence and fix the flawed provisions supported by Representative Eshoo and others to allow a true pathway for generic biologics.” Ethan Guillen, Executive Director, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, (775) 287-2553, [email protected] UAEM is a member of the www.AffordableMedsNow.org campaign.

“These days Washington, DC is a one party town, when it comes to influence from big Pharma. The Republicans had a chance to demonstrate that competition can protect consumers and businesses. Instead they opted for highly regulatory barriers to competition.” James Love, director, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) (202) 361-3040, [email protected] KEI is a member of the www.AffordableMedsNow.org campaign.

“At a time when we are hoping to reform health care by bringing costs down and improving patients’ access to treatment and care, I am disappointed to see GOP leaders adopt Rep. Eshoo’s language for biologic drugs. This language will in effect extend pharmaceutical companies’ high monopoly pricing via prolonged periods of market exclusivity, and paradoxically stifle innovation by enabling easy renewal of these long monopolies.” Saira Alimohamed, student, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and Chair of the Global Health Committee, American Medical Student Association (AMSA). (443) 803-7403 or [email protected] or [email protected] AMSA is a member of the www.AffordableMedsNow.org campaign.

“I am shocked at the ability of the pharmaceutical industry to buy what it wants from Congress. The inclusion of a biogenerics proposal that will in fact block most generic biologic drugs from coming to market in the Republican healthcare bill underscores how policy-making in Washington these days is less about patient’s needs, and more about serving the interests of the pharmaceutical industry.” Malini Aisola, Senior Research Advisor, Knowledge Ecology International, (202) 332-2670, [email protected] KEI is a member of the www.AffordableMedsNow.org campaign.

“These most recent developments in health care ‘reform’ are extremely troubling. I am very worried for the future of America’s healthcare system if the only productive compromise our representatives can make is to throw in this same biogenerics proposal, with its same lack of foresight or concern for patients’ rights.” Eric Emilio-Gerrit Butter, student, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Duke Institute for Genome Science and Policy, and member of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), (607) 759-5959, [email protected] UAEM is a member of the www.AffordableMedsNow.org campaign.