Friday, July 10, 2015
Billy Long: Why I supported the 21st Century Cures Act
This was a historic week in the House with the passage of H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill had overwhelming bipartisan support, passing 344-77. The House Energy & Commerce committee made history in May, unanimously passing 21st Century Cures out of the committee, 51-0. It is great news for millions of Americans who struggle with diseases with ineffective treatments or, worse, no treatments or cures at all. I was able to insert into 21stCentury Cures legislative text from a bill I worked on that would enhance data sharing between pharmaceutical companies and the medical community to better-equip doctors with the knowledge of what works for each patient.
Throughout history, American medical innovation has made monumental contributions to the world’s health – from the cardiac defibrillator to the Polio vaccine. However, we have held ourselves back from making even greater strides due to decades-old regulations governing how new, effective treatments are approved for use. Technological advances have given new life to research and development allowing so many more discoveries and unlocking more potential to improve quality of life for sick Americans. Unfortunately, the federal government has not updated its regulations with the advancements. Twenty-first Century Cures is the solution to the problem.
21st Century Cures would reduce bureaucratic barriers between the scientists conducting research and development of new treatments and the doctors who could prescribe those groundbreaking treatments. This bill would establish a streamlined Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review process for breakthrough medical devices and treatments to quickly, safely move groundbreaking treatments to patients with ease. It would provide incentives for American development of drugs and treatments for rare diseases. The FDA would be able to use patient views, needs and demands when considering approval of new treatments, and it would establish an accelerated approval plan for potentially major discoveries. The private sector would be empowered with resources and access to partnerships with federal entities, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), giving the potential for American medical discovery a booster shot with a five-year, fully offset innovation fund within the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration to aid research of diseases.
Of the 10,000 known diseases and conditions, only 500 have treatments. The vote this week was for millions of Americans and their families, like my own, whose lives have been changed by cancer, Alzheimer’s or other modern diseases without adequate therapies or cures. With this bill, I am more confident than ever that we will decrease the burden on government and family spending and increase peace of mind to cope with modern illnesses.