In a statement, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), co-authors of the bill, said, “21st Century Cures is the innovation game-changer that patients, their loved ones, and the nation’s researchers and scientists so desperately need.”
“The White House has expressed its enthusiastic endorsement of this critical legislation,” Upton and DeGette said. “So it’s now on to the Senate, where we are just one final vote away from delivering #CuresNow.”
Passage of the bill in the Senate next week appears likely, even though Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, has taken to the floor twice to criticize the bill as a windfall for drug companies, with too few safety provisions.
The bill, which passed 392 to 26, was the product of three years of work, largely in the House, with former and current officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) — two of the biggest beneficiaries of new funding in the bill — as well as scientists, health care advocates and others. It aims to streamline the federal drug regulatory structure to keep up with advances in biotechnology and other forms of medical research.
The bill authorizes billions of dollars in new funding for N.I.H. research, much of it directed for Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, including money for the cancer “moonshot” sought by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., whose son died from complications of a brain tumor last year.
The F.D.A. is expected to receive a half-billion dollars, in part to help expand its staff to speed up processes at that agency.
States could tap into roughly $1 billion over two years to fight the opioid epidemic.
It also folds in another large piece of legislation designed to improve the nation’s mental health services.
Democrats are unhappy with the way the bill is funded. It authorizes $6.3 billion in money taken from a preventive health care fund and other sources, but funding must be appropriated annually. Democrats wanted the funding to be automatic each year.
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