On December 13, 2016, former President Barack Obama signed into law key bipartisan health care legislation. Dubbed the 21st Century Cures Act, the $6.3 billion bill amounts to a complicated grab bag of initiatives spanning nearly 1,000 pages. While the legislation holds big implications for people in medical and pharmaceutical industries, it should also have a significant long-term impact on the general public.
What it Does
There are a number of obstacles that stand in the way of medical progress. Among the most impactful are funding deficits and restrictions that impede the development and approval of new drugs. While regulation helps to prevent potentially dangerous drugs from entering the market, some argue that too many restrictions have kept life-saving medications from the people who need them. The 21st Century Cures Act will ease certain regulations and restrictions in an attempt to foster the development and distribution of new drugs.
In addition to eliminating regulatory hurdles that complicate and delay new drug approvals, the 21st Century Cures Act allocates key funding to the National Institutes of Health, including:
- $1.56 billion for the BRAIN Initiative, which aims to develop new technologies for mapping the human brain
- $1.4 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative, which will look to develop new treatments using genetic data from one million American volunteers
- $1.8 billion for the famous cancer research “moonshot” championed by former Vice President Joe Biden.
- $1 billion for opioid prevention and treatment programs
The bill also authorizes the National Institutes of Health to dedicate some of its funding to high-risk, high-reward research through special procurement procedures instead of traditional contracts and grants. The NIH will also create “Eureka prize” competitions aimed at accelerating discovery and development of disease-modifying, preventive or curative treatments.
Whether they suffer from addiction, cancer, Alzheimer’s or mental health issues, Americans need new treatments that offer effective results. The 21st Century Cures Act will make this possible by providing more funding and incentives to develop new treatments and medical technologies. It will also make it easier for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to accelerate drug approvals, while maintaining high standards for safety and efficacy.