Thursday, Jun 23, 1988

Free Heart Drug To Needy, Uninsured Patients

South San Francisco, Calif. -- June 23, 1988 --

Genentech, Inc. today announced that it will provide free its heart attack drug, Activase®, a tissue plasminogen activator or t-PA, for patients not covered by medical insurance or government reimbursement.

"Our goal with this program is to see that Activase is not denied to heart attack patients solely on their ability to pay," Kirk Raab, president and chief operating officer, said. "This is an inherent part of Genentech's tradition to help ensure that our products are available to everyone who can benefit from them."

The company launched a similar program last year with its human growth hormone, Protropin®, for children who are not reimbursed for treatment. To date, Genentech has donated $11 million of Protropin for needy children.

T-PA is a thrombolytic agent, or blood clot dissolver, used to treat heart attacks in the early hours of an attack. Genentech received a license to market Activase from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November, 1987.

Ninety-nine percent of the nation's hospitals carry the heart attack drug. After only six months on the market, Activase is being used for an estimated two-thirds of all heart attack patients treated in the U.S. with thrombolytic therapy.

Hospitals compensated for uninsured patients

Under the new patient reimbursement program, Genentech will compensate hospitals for administering t-PA to heart attack patients whose annual income is less than twice the poverty level ($25,000) and who are not covered by private or government insurance, including Medicaid or Medicare. Patients with such coverage are already reimbursed for treatment.

After administering Activase, the hospital will provide Genentech with the patients medical records and all relevant financial information under a confidentiality agreement. If the patient is eligible for reimbursement under the program's conditions, Genentech will replace the vials of t-PA for the hospital.

In developing the program, Genentech consulted members of the health care professions, including hospital pharmacy advisory groups. They strongly endorsed efforts to mitigate cost and reimbursement pressures in the hospital environment.

"The uninsured patients program will go a long way toward removing cost as a factor in the clinician's choice of which therapy to use," said Arthur LeMay, director of pharmacy at Yale-New Haven Hospital. "This is particularly critical in integrating important new technologies, such as t-PA, into standard hospital practice."

"Genentech's action takes the cardiologist's decision out of the financial realm and puts it into the clinical area, where it belongs," said Jack Owen, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association.

An Issue of National Proportion

Providing the medically needy and working poor with access to high standards of medical care has become an issue of national concern. It is estimated that 36 million people in the U.S. are not covered by any form of health insurance. Most of them have incomes too high to receive government-funded coverage for the poor, or are under the age for Medicare, but cannot afford private insurance.

"With new technologies continuously providing a better and wider range of therapies, we must make sure that patients at all economic levels receive the highest possible quality of healthcare" Mr. Owen said. "Genentech is taking a major step toward helping us to achieve this uniform standard of care for heart attack victims."

Product Wastage Program Also Announced

In addition to the uninsured patients plan, Genentech is launching a comprehensive wastage replacement program. In accordance with its provisions, vials of t-PA reconstituted but not used by hospitals will be replaced within 30 days. T-PA can also be replaced if the vial was destroyed (i.e. dropped), mixed improperly, or subject to some other event which renders it unusable.

Genentech is a leading biotechnology company focusing on the development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals produced by recombinant DNA technology.

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