21st Century Cures Passes House
On several occasions since the launch of the 21st Century Cures initiative in May of 2014, this column has made mention of this bipartisan initiative being undertaken by lawmakers such as myself who serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee. As you may recall, this important effort is about saving more lives, keeping this country the leader in medical innovation, and accelerating the discovery, development, and delivery cycle of new cures and treatments for diseases.
I am pleased to report that the legislation produced as a result of this initiative, the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6, or Cures) passed the House of Representatives in a vote of 344-77. It is the culmination of much hard work, led by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO).
There are 10,000 known diseases or conditions – 7,000 of which are rare – but there are treatments for only 500 of them. So many of us have been touched in some way by disease, or have sat with our doctors and received life changing news. So many of us have watched a loved one suffer, or said goodbye too soon to someone we treasure.
A former classmate of mine at Emory and Henry College passed away last week after a three year battle with cancer. She reportedly fought off death until the last of her three sons could join his brothers and father at her side. Hopefully 21st Century Cures will prevent situations like this in the future.
Also, I hope it will prevent situations like the story I read in the newspaper this spring of a woman from Washington County who battled Leiomyosarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer. She was diagnosed in 2008, going through several major surgeries and 17 rounds of chemotherapy in her fight against this cancer. In January 2014, she was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a type of blood cancer reportedly caused from the chemotherapy she had undergone. Sadly, she was later admitted to the ICU with cytomegalovirus (CMV), pneumonia, and other infections which eventually caused her death. She passed in December 2014 at the early age of 46, and is survived by her husband and two children, the older of whom recently graduated from high school with honor and received a prestigious award for high school student athletes. Over the years, this family has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to combat rare cancers.
Fundraising efforts across the country are of great help and are greatly needed. While it is certainly not often the case the federal government can do something individuals, private companies, and communities cannot do, researching cures for disorders like those mentioned above, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Noonan Syndrome, Alzheimer’s, and others is something the federal government can and should coordinate. 21st Century Cures ensures that federal monies will be pinpointed for research and are well spent.
Not only is Cures an opportunity to benefit patients by helping to bring new drugs to market faster, but its funding is derived from reforms in Medicaid spending, a reduction in the strategic oil reserve, and other cuts.
Many, including myself, want to see medical innovation legislation signed into law by the President. The odds are good if the Senate will ever take the bill up.
To ensure the Senate considers it, call your Senators and ask them to bring 21st Century Cures to the floor.