ICYMI: ‘Cures’ Act ‘momentous’ for cancer research
President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law on Dec. 13. The legislation aims to provide additional funding to the NIH and FDA while streamlining the development of new drugs.
A revised version of the bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in a 392-to-26 vote on Nov. 30. It was then passed by the Senate in a 94-to-5 vote on Dec. 7.
“Working together, we got the job done,” Upton and DeGette said in a joint statement. “Patients needed a game-changer — and it is our hope that history will look back at the Cures effort as the moment in time when the tide finally turned against disease.”
The 21st Century Cures Act provides the NIH with $4.8 million in new, fully offset funding, according to a fact sheet provided by the Energy and Commerce Committee. The funds will be used to help advance the Precision Medicine Initiative and provide $1.5 billion to drive research into genetic, lifestyle and environmental variations of disease; provide $1.8 billion to bolster Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer moonshot initiative over the next 7 years; and invest in the BRAIN initiative to improve understanding of diseases, including Alzheimer disease.
“I’m hopeful that, in the years ahead, Congress keeps working together in a bipartisan fashion to move us forward rather than backward in support of the health of our people,” Obama said during the bill signing.
The funding for the cancer moonshot initiative includes $300 million for the current fiscal year.
“Enacting 21st Century Cures is a momentous achievement and, potentially, an important pivot point for cancer research progress,” Clifford Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO, CEO of ASCO, said in a statement. “This historic legislation brings new hope to millions of Americans facing life-threatening diseases and to their families. Not only does the 21st Century Cures Act reduce some of the major barriers to advancing cancer research, the measure also provides critical authority to federal research agencies to accomplish major priorities for the cancer community, including the cancer moonshot and precision medicine initiatives.”
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) also commended Obama and Biden for their dedication in the fight against cancer.
“[This] is a momentous occasion for the entire cancer research community and, more importantly, for the millions of people whose lives are touched by cancer,” Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), CEO of AACR, said in a statement. “The 21st Century Cures Act is a vitally important piece of legislation that will allow us to realize Vice President Biden’s goal of achieving a decade’s worth of lifesaving progress against cancer in 5 years.”
Decades of efforts have led to the current “inflection point in cancer research,” Nancy E. Davidson, MD, AACR president and executive director of the Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium, said in the statement.
“There are 15.5 million cancer survivors who are alive today because of cancer research,” she said. “[This] action by President Obama provides us with a down payment for the resources necessary to save more lives from cancer.”