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Key Senators Targeted in New Health Care Ad Campaign

The increasingly contentious debate over health care reform is fueling new advertisements aimed at key Senators. The conservative group Patients First is spending $1.3 million on a one-week ad buy in a dozen states, while the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association has launched a new campaign over generic biologics.

Patients First is running TV ads targeting Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), whose committee is drafting a health care bill, as well as Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), among others.

The new ad urges patients to call their Senators and ask them to “oppose any legislation that imposes greater government control over my health care that would mean fewer choices for me and my family and even deny treatments to those in need,” according to the group.

The PCMA would not release the dollar amount of its just-released ad campaign, said the group’s spokesman, Charles Cote. The group is lobbying for a quick pathway for the Food and Drug Administration to approve “biosimilars,” which are generic versions of biotech drugs. PCMA is urging the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to adopt a proposal that would give brand-name companies about seven years of market exclusivity before a generic version could enter the market.

The HELP Committee is also considering a proposal that could give brand companies a dozen or more years of market exclusivity.

Mark Merritt, PCMA’s president, said his group opposes the measure that would give longer market exclusivity and makes that clear in the ad titled “Bio-Illogic.”

“We see the biogenerics debate as one of the easiest components of health care reform, and its success or failure will be a good barometer for how broader health care reform will go,” Merritt said.

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