21st Century Cures Act

10,000 diseases…..only 500 treatments. While some may quibble about the numbers, that message is at the heart of the 21st Century Cures Act. As a quick overview of this piece of legislation – Vox.com writes:

The 21st Century Cures Act is a bipartisan effort that’s been in the works since April 2014. The idea behind the bill is that the Food and Drug Administration’s current approval process is clunky and out of date, delaying potentially lifesaving drugs and devices from reaching the patients who need them. The bill aims to modernize the process, accelerate drug and device innovation by boosting funding for research, and get cures onto the market faster.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the 21st Century Cures Act last night (392-26). The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration next week. According to Fortune Magazine, in addition to speeding up the drug approval process – the bill “also encompasses a host of other big initiatives, including more than $5 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and money to help the FDA; $1 billion for tackling the opioid epidemic; and provisions that are meant to help pair Americans who suffer from serious mental illnesses with available psychiatric beds.”

This legislation also supports the cancer moonshot initiative – a plan close to the heart of Vice-President Joe Biden who lost his son to cancer last year. Many are comparing this to another lofty goal set more than 50 years ago to put a man on the moon.

In a post on Medium.com earlier this year, VP Biden wrote:

“This is our moonshot. I know that we can help solidify a genuine global commitment to end cancer as we know it today  —  and inspire a new generation of scientists to pursue new discoveries and the bounds of human endeavor.”

The 21st Century Cures Act does have its critics. Some senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, say they will oppose it according to a report in Modern Healthcare.com.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have said the Act includes too many concessions to the pharmaceutical industry.

In a fiery speech Monday condemning the bill, Warren said said the bill had been hijacked by special interest.

However, the bill does have wide ranging support. The Obama Administration is in favor of it and, according to National Public Radio (NPR), “Beyond the pharmaceutical industry, the bill’s supporters include universities, medical schools and groups representing them, as well as patient groups funded by drug and device companies.”

What do you think about the 21st century Cures Act? We’d love to get your input on what you believe it might mean for the people of our state. Generating conversations around the important health topics of the day is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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