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BIO Statement on 60 Minutes Cancer Drug Segment

Washington, D.C. (October 6, 2014) – The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) released the following statement today in response to a misleading segment on the cost of innovative cancer therapies on this week’s 60 Minutes. The following statement may be attributed to BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood:

“It is unfortunate that CBS has chosen to attack the price of specialty cancer medications while ignoring the value created by these drugs for patients and the healthcare system. Cancer patients today are able to live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life than ever before thanks to medicines made by biopharmaceutical research companies.

“Since 1990, patients with cancer have gained 50 million additional life years, and new cancer medications are responsible for 75 percent of those gains. Since 1991, the death rate from cancer in the U.S. has declined by 20 percent. These advances are only possible because of the enormous and risky investments in research and development by innovative biopharmaceutical companies. Today, there are nearly 800 medicines and vaccines to treat or prevent cancer in clinical trials or awaiting FDA review.

“The reality is that cancer medicines account for less than 1 percent of total U.S. health care spending. If CBS is truly concerned about the problems faced by cancer patients seeking to access the most suitable treatment for their condition, it would do well to explore the insurance industry’s recent expansion of the use of specialty tier cost sharing, in which patients must pay a relatively high percentage of their drug costs, rather than a flat co-payment. This approach can cost patients thousands of dollars out of pocket, and in effect limits their access to medicines and injects a third party between doctor and patient when determining the best course of treatment.”