WASHINGTON, March 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In testimony today before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) Vice President Sid Banwart urged Congress to pass bipartisan legislation this year to create an approval process within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for generic versions of biologic prescription drugs.
Biologic drugs are based on living organisms rather than simple molecular compounds, which make up traditional chemical pharmaceuticals. Currently the FDA does not have the authority to approve generic versions of biologic drugs as it does for chemical pharmaceuticals.
"Each day that passes without biogenerics is another day of limited options," said Banwart, who has responsibility for the company's Human Services Division. "No payer - whether individual or employer, public or private - can afford to support these promising new drugs in the absence of fair and open competition."
As patents on biologic drugs expire, the door opens for greater innovation and biogeneric competition. Caterpillar supports a definitive pathway for the approval of these drugs because it will lead to safe, effective and affordable biogeneric products.
"Our biologics costs have increased 45 percent since 2004," said Banwart. "This is our single fastest growing category of health cost, and the trend is simply not sustainable."
Caterpillar provides healthcare benefits for more than 150,000 employees, retirees and their families. Prescription drugs account for one quarter of the company's overall healthcare spend, which was more than $600 million in 2006.
For more than 80 years, Caterpillar Inc. has been making progress possible and driving positive and sustainable change on every continent. With 2006 sales and revenues of $41.517 billion, Caterpillar is the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, and industrial gas turbines. The company also is a leading services provider through Caterpillar Financial Services, Caterpillar Remanufacturing Services, Caterpillar Logistics Services and Progress Rail Services. More information is available at http://www.cat.com .
Source: Caterpillar Inc.