Alexander's 21st Century Cures Band

  • by: Peter Pitts |
  • 04/07/2016
According to a BioCentury report about yesterday’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) hearing on biomedical innovation legislation, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN.) said he plans to bring companion legislation for the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6) to the Senate floor if he can obtain bipartisan agreement on mandatory "surge" funding for NIH. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA.), the committee's ranking member, said Democratic support for innovation legislation is contingent on mandatory funding increases for both NIH and FDA.

The remarks came at the HELP Committee’s third and final markup of biomedical innovation legislation. The committee voted to pass five bills.
The Promise for Antibiotics and Therapeutics for Health Act (S. 185) would create a new pathway for FDA to approve antibiotics for limited populations. The FDA and NIH Workforce Authorities Modernization Act (S. 2700) includes a proposal from Friends of Cancer Research to establish one or more “Intercenter Institutes” within FDA to coordinate activities among centers for drugs, biologics and devices to treat major diseases. It also would give NIH and FDA authority to pay salaries up to the level of the president.

The Promoting Biomedical Research and Public Health for Patients Act (S. 2742) would create five-year terms for NIH institute directors that are renewable at the NIH director's discretion, would remove restrictions on the National Center for Advancing Translational Science funding Phase III studies, and would reduce paperwork for NIH-funded researchers.

The Advancing Precision Medicine Act of 2016 (S. 2713) would authorize NIH to implement a precision medicine initiative. The Advancing NIH Strategic Planning and Representation in Medical Research Act (S. 2745) would require that NIH take steps to increase the numbers of women and ethnic minorities who participate in clinical research.

Alexander said the bills will be combined into a single bill with other biomedical innovation legislation HELP has passed. If agreement on NIH funding is reached and the HELP innovation bills reach the Senate floor, Alexander said several amendments will be offered on topics where the committee hasn’t reached a consensus. These include proposals to create a five-year conditional approval pathway for regenerative medicines and to regulate laboratory-developed tests.

Alexander also said the Senate would vote on an amendment based on the Orphan Product Extensions Now (OPEN) Act, which would grant six months of additional exclusivity to drugs that are repurposed for Orphan conditions.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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