Congress Prioritizes Medical Research Bill, Poised to Pass Before Year Ends

November 28
6:00 AM 2016

In a lame duck session, Congressional leaders are pushing to pass a bill co-authored by U.S. Representative Diana DeGette before the year ends. The bill covers a broad spectrum of medical issues that include providing reduced time to access medical treatments, deals on cancer treatment, pediatric research, and the conduct of clinical trials.

"This would be the last substantive piece of legislation to pass in this Congress," said DeGette, who partnered with U.S. Representative Fred Upton, in a proposal introduced last year.

The long-stalled package of biomedical innovations bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, will be voted upon in the House of Representatives on Wednesday along with a vote on adding state funding to fight opioid abuse.

DeGette believes that the bill will serve to speed up the development of new treatments, with its provision to better support research initiatives and clinical trials. The bill would also boost the fund of National Institutes of Health to $4.8 billion over the next decade.

She said the bill would help scientist from different universities to collaborate on research projects. She proposed that instead of having to undergo different protocols, it would be easier to establish one central board that would oversee the process for the study.

However, despite the support of top lawmakers, the bill is opposed by consumer groups, saying that the bill is being too favorable to the medical industry.

Consumer-rights group such as Public Citizen raised concerns over the possible passage of the bill. The group worries that the plan would lower the approval standards for drugs and medical devices. Another concern of the group is that the house version of the bill provides for some companies to extend the exclusivity of some medications. This would delay the introduction of generic drugs to the market.

In response, DeGette's aide said that the provision had been removed from the version presented on Friday.

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