Washington, D.C. (January 8, 2010) – Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Senior Vice President Ken Johnson today released the following statement on health care reform:
“While we recognize the difficulty in reconciling differences between the Senate and House bills, we remain convinced that comprehensive health care reform – if done in a smart way and a fair way – will benefit patients, our economy and the future of our nation.
“But this well-intentioned effort will ultimately fail if it becomes a roadblock to medical progress in America. Innovative, cutting-edge medicines have dramatically increased life expectancy rates in the United States and have allowed patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other devastating chronic diseases to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Americans deserve the best health care possible.
“Since 1980, life expectancy rates for cancer patients have increased about three years, and 83 percent of those gains are attributable to new treatments, including medicines. Cardiovascular death rates fell a dramatic 26 percent between 1999 and 2005, according to the American Heart Association. And, HIV/AIDS deaths have dropped by more than 70 percent since the approval of the highly active anti-retroviral treatments, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Discovering and developing new life-saving medicines is an inherently risky and expensive undertaking, but private-sector R&D pays huge dividends to our health care system. Innovative medicines have improved the lives of millions of American patients and have helped to save billions of dollars by reducing avoidable hospitalizations, preventing unnecessary emergency room visits and improving productivity.
“After careful review, we believe the Senate bill provides the best blueprint for real reform. It offers the kind of change that will benefit patients today without putting medical progress at risk in the future.
“We are continuing to do our part to make health care reform a reality. Our commitment to patients is evident by our $80 billion pledge over 10 years to help pay for health care reform. To that end, our companies agreed back in June to help most eligible seniors and disabled Americans who hit the so-called ‘donut hole’ in Medicare Part D cut their out-of-pocket expenses on brand-name medications in half as part of the Senate’s health care reform legislation. The remainder of our commitment will help the government expand health care coverage to millions of Americans.
“But this commitment comes at a big price for our industry. Since coverage expansions are not expected to generate a material upside, all of our companies are being forced to make some very difficult choices moving forward. Yet, early on in this process, we recognized that there had to be a shared sacrifice for health care reform to be successful. We believe our $80 billion agreement is fair and proportional to our share of health care spending in America.
“Unfortunately, the House bill, as passed, would have the unintended consequences of killing tens of thousands of jobs in our industry at a time when the U.S. economy is struggling and unemployment is hovering around 10 percent. This is absolutely the worst time to be putting additional strains on the economy with punishing job losses. Worst of all, it would have a chilling effect on critically important R&D in America, impacting patient care for generations.
“We are proud of our significant efforts to help move the health care reform debate forward, but, at the same time, offer a cautionary reminder: saving money is important but so is saving lives. Devastating chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease are the real problems facing our health care system today. That’s why we strongly believe that everyone in America, including the tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured, should benefit from promising new advances in medical care. That’s the kind of reform patients want and deserve.”
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $50.3 billion in 2008 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.2 billion in 2008.
PhRMA Internet Address: www.phrma.org
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For information on how innovative medicines save lives, visit: www.innovation.org
For information on the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, visit: www.pparx.org
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