The panel advanced five bills aimed at speeding up Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of new drugs and devices. The measures will be combined with several other bills to become the Senate’s version of the House’s 21st Century Cures Act, which passed last July 10.
But a crucial element of the bill still remains to be worked out: new funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which Democrats have made a dealbreaker.
The NIH funding could go to initiatives like the Obama administration's “moonshot” to cure cancer, and the FDA reforms are aimed at speeding up the approval of treatments, particularly for rare diseases.
Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said he and the top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), are “making progress” toward a deal.
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See also Senate HELP Committee’s Senate Health Committee Approves Last of 19 Bipartisan Bills, Completing Work on Companion to House-Passed 21st Century Cures Act.