(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray introduced legislation to update Medicare so that patients with diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Hepatitis C and Deep Vein Thrombosis can benefit from a new crop of promising drugs known as self-injectable biologics.

"This legislation will give Medicare patients access to innovative medical treatments that are convenient and effective and will remove a bureaucratic burden to promising new drugs," Murray said.

Currently, many patients with private insurance and those on Medicaid have coverage for these medical treatments. Unfortunately, patients on Medicare can only get these drugs when they are administered in a doctor's office. For patients with limited mobility and for those in rural areas, this outdated policy imposes special hardships. This bureaucratic restriction could also stifle promising research in the biologics field.

Murray's legislation, "The Access to Innovation for Medicare Patients Act of 2001," would provide Medicare patients coverage for self-injected biologics. Joining Murray in support of the bill were Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI).

"In recent years, new medical technologies have created promising drug treatments that patients can use in their own homes. These new treatments, known as self-injectable biologics, mean patients can save time and have a better quality of life," Murray said. "Today, Medicare discriminates against these effective medical treatments, and patients are feeling the impact. The time has come to remove this unfair burden and give Medicare patients access to self-injectable biologics."

The legislation has been endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation, the American Public Health Association, National Association of Retired Federal Employees, National Council on the Aging, National Farmers Union, National Hispanic Council on Aging, Association of Jewish Aging Services and the Visiting Nurses Associations of America. Today, companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA).