Overwhelming Support For Follow-On Biologics To Reduce Drug Cost

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In a national survey released today by the Alliance of Minority Medical Associations (AMMA), Americans noted that their highest health care priority is reducing the cost of prescription drugs. Furthermore, survey respondents shared overwhelming support for creating an approval pathway for generic, or follow-on biotechnology therapies, with 86% of likely voters stating their desire for such a system.

The poll, which was conducted last month, showed that 47% of likely voters in November believe "making medications more affordable" is the most important improvement needed for our healthcare system, followed by "easier access to doctors, clinics, and hospitals" with 22%.

As the nation moves toward the November general election, more than three quarters, 77% of voters stated they were more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supports an approval pathway for follow-on biologics. Both Senators McCain and Obama, the presumptive presidential nominees have indicated support for allowing follow-on biologics.

"We as health care consumers and providers are very concerned about having the ability to afford prescription medicines," said Dr. Randall Maxey, President of AMMA. "With rising health care costs and increasing pressures that limit access to prescription drugs, this survey reinforces the fact that Americans overwhelmingly desire another pathway to affordable medications."

The survey also affirmed Americans' confidence in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure drug safety for consumers. An overwhelming majority, 85% of likely voters stated that they were more likely to support a biogenerics pathway after hearing that FDA officials have said they can safely test generic versions of biologics and have already asked Congress to do so.

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This support comes from voters': confidence in the existing generic drug system; confidence in the ability of the FDA to regulate generic versions of bio-medicines; and a sense that the costs of drugs are too high.

The survey also found that 55% said the current lack of a generics system for bio-medicines favors drug companies over consumers, compared to 22% who said it struck the right balance between manufacturers and consumers and 11% who said it favors consumers.

Respondents indicated a high confidence in the current generics system - 79% consider it "safe" while only 14% consider it "unsafe" - as well as confidence in the FDA's ability to regulate product safety.

Throughout the survey, the poll found FDA support for any pathway for these follow-on therapies to be the lynchpin for voter support for creating such a pathway.

Dr. Maxey noted that the next step is for Congress to take the lead and create a follow-on biologics approval pathway. "It is imperative that patients can benefit from increased access to lifesaving medications as a result of competition and innovation within the biologics industry."

These results are the product of 500 interviews with likely voters nationwide. The interviews were conducted May 6 - 8, 2008 by Mr. Peter Brodnitz of the Benenson Strategy Group. Mr. Brodnitz was named "Pollster of the Year" in 2007 by the American Association of Political Consultants -- a bi-partisan award given to one pollster per election year. The Benenson Strategy Group's clients include Governor Tim Kaine (VA), Senator Jim Webb (VA), and Barack Obama's campaign for President.

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