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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2009
2:14 PM

CONTACT: US PIRG

Larry McNeely
Mobile: 703-980-6291 Office: 202-546-9707 x303                                                                                                           lmcneely@pirg.org

Health Care Reform and the Biologics Bill: US PIRG Supports Innovation, Not Monopoly

WASHINGTON - July 14 - A top, respected consumer group threw its weight behind proposals to speed generic versions of protein-based wonder drugs to market on Tuesday.

In testimony before Congress, U.S. Public Interest Research Group's Health Care Advocate Larry McNeely lauded the effort.

"We need markets that drive innovation, not those that reward monopoly," McNeely said before the House Judiciary Committee's Sub-Committee on Courts and Competition on Tuesday.

The generics industry and public interest advocates support Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-CA) "Access to Life Saving Medicine Act," while the pharmaceutical and biotechnology lobbies have lined up behind a House alternative offered by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA).

The key difference between the two bills lies in how many years of protection from generic competition brand name biologic manufacturers would get.  Eshoo's bill provides 14 years, while Waxman's provides five, the same protection offered to brand name drug manufacturers.

The issue of whether to provide for an expedited review procedure has become one of the interesting subplots of recent debates over health care reform legislation.

The two issues are related, according to McNeely.

"Health reform is about reining in the rising cost of health care.  The Waxman biologics bill would lower costs, making these live-saving drugs available to more Americans," McNeely said. "The alternatives would be a bailout to the big biotech firms."

For more on U.S. PIRG's health care campaign, "Making Health Care Work," check the U.S. PIRG website or click here.

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U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.



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