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Comprehensive Health Reform: A Must Pass This Year

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) President and CEO Billy Tauzin today released the following statement regarding President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress last night:

"PhRMA applauds President Obama for making clear that comprehensive healthcare reform is a top priority for his administration. We must not miss this extraordinary opportunity in our history to build on the strengths of our healthcare system and address its weaknesses.

"A comprehensive approach to reforming our healthcare system will not only provide coverage to millions of Americans who still lack high-quality, affordable health insurance, but also will help strengthen our struggling economy. Healthcare reform is not a luxury; it is essential to economic recovery and imperative to making Americans healthier and more productive.

"PhRMA firmly supports President Obama's commitment to seek a 'cure for cancer in our time.' We share this goal and to that end, America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies are working on a record 750 medicines to fight this deadly disease that touches so many Americans. In order to accomplish the President's lofty goal, the development of innovative new medicines is critically important.

"The President's call for a new focus on disease prevention will transform our current sick-care system into a 21st century healthcare system. It is time for our healthcare system to do a better job of stopping disease before it starts. Too many times we get to patients after they've been diagnosed or worse, we intervene after the disease has already done most of its damage. This is why it is so important that we focus reform efforts on disease prevention and management, both of which can improve the quality of care in the U.S. and also help lower healthcare costs.

"Today, millions of Americans lack insurance coverage or have excessive co-pays that cause them to pass on needed medical treatments. This not only has a detrimental effect on patient health, it impacts job stability and economic growth. For example, the impact of lost workdays and lower employee productivity due to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease resulted in an estimated economic loss of $1 trillion in 2003.

"America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies have partnered with a diverse group of stakeholders representing both business and organized labor to help push healthcare reform efforts. Though of diverse backgrounds, we agree that our healthcare system must be improved for the greater good of our country. Too many businesses are crippled because of out-of-control healthcare costs.

"Last year, PhRMA unveiled its own healthcare reform platform to address all of these critical issues. Our plan stresses the need to build on the existing employer-based system and expanding coverage through a public-private approach - with a focus on private health insurance expansions and leveraging such public health insurance programs as the recently reauthorized State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

"PhRMA is committed to working with President Obama and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and will continue to support policies that encourage and strengthen innovation, improve patient access to medicines and expand healthcare coverage for all Americans."

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 $44.5 billion in 2007 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $58.8 billion in 2007.

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For information on stories of hope and survival, visit:

For information on how innovative medicines save lives, visit:

For information on the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, visit:

For information on the dangers of imported drugs, visit:

SOURCE Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
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