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House Members Announce “21st Century Cures Initiative” that Seeks to Accelerate Pace of Medical Breakthroughs

Legislative Update
May 6, 2014

On April 30, Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), who also serves on the panel, announced a new bipartisan initiative that would seek ways for the federal government to accelerate the introduction of new medical therapies and breakthroughs by addressing the entire research process, from ‘discovery to development to delivery’.

Under the initiative, members of the Committee will meet with representatives from all federal entities involved in the research process and bringing new treatments to the bedside, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with patient representatives, academics, and industry.

In a video released by the Committee, Chairman Upton and Cong. DeGette explain their reasons for forming the initiative, with the latter saying that the United States must be the “healthcare innovation capitol of the world.” Chairman Upton, who reminds viewers that he participated in Congressional efforts to double the NIH budget in the Fiscal Years (FY) 1999-2003 timeframe, states that if the U.S. is to remain the leader in healthcare innovation, there cannot be a ‘gap’ between the science of cures and the way these new discoveries are regulated, which slows down the process of bringing new therapies to patients.

As part of the initiative, the first roundtable was held by the Committee on May 6, with a panel featuring NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) Director Janet Woodcock, M.D, and the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) Director Jeff Shuren, M.D., along with representatives from academia and patient advocacy groups.