The U.S. House of Representatives just passed the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6), an historic piece of legislation that holds the potential to advance dementia research and treatments by light years. Get the details.
The 21st Century Cures Act passed by a generous vote of 344 to 77. It contains critical provisions that will:
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- Create a surveillance program for dementia and other neurological disorders at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) & the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
- Create incentives to increase the number of treatments available to patients, in particular, those made possible by the OPEN ACT and the Advancing Hope Act (priority review voucher program)
- Enhance the drug development process by including patient perspectives and use of biomarker data
- Support the development and dissemination of expanded access policies
On the positive side, it advances research for neurological orders, including various types of dementia. The parts of the bill that deal with off-label medications may be a tremenous step forward for dementia patients. Currently, when drugs are approved, the FDA is often focused on approvals for Alzheimer's, the most common type of dementia. It may be perfectly good for treating many other types of dementia, but will the government pay for it if the FDA did not explicitly approve it for that type? With this bill, the all-too-common "no" will often become "yes."
The nonpartisan legislation will help to bring America's health care system into the 21st Century. The Act invests in science and medical innovation, incorporating the patient perspective, and modernizing clinical trials, to deliver better, faster cures to more patients.
The bill’s authors, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-NJ), and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX) commented:
“Today, we took a big leap on the path to cures, but we still have much work left to do. The 344 votes today should be a springboard for action. On to the Senate.”
The bill had its detractors. On Morning Edition Public Radio, some experts felt that this bill to boost medical research comes with a catch. Harvard's Dr. Jerry Avorn said the bill is "loaded with a lot of provisions that were heavily influenced by pharmaceutical and biotech and medical device lobbyists that really do some pretty worrisome things."
It is now up to the U.S. Senate to craft its approach to this problem. The bipartisan support in the House of Representatives to pass the 21st Century Cures Act should be a faith restoring example that the two parties can come together to accomplish something remarkable to improve the quality of life for American patients.
- Fox News
- New York Public Radio
- Energy & Commerce Committee, United States House of Representatives