FROM THE ARCHIVES: 21st Century Cures Act Becomes Law (December 13, 2016)

In celebration of COSSA’s 40th anniversary, we are diving into the decades of Washington Update archives to share articles from years past that resonate with today’s news.

In a display of bipartisanship, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act. The House overwhelmingly passed an updated version of the bill (H.R. 34) on November 30 by a vote of 392 to 26. On December 7, the Senate followed suit with its consideration of the bill and passed it by a recorded vote of 94 to 5. President Obama signed the bill on December 13. The comprehensive bill provides an infusion of funding for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve drugs and devices with greater urgency, provides resources to states to assist in fighting the opioid epidemic, and provides a boost for mental health care.

The bill reauthorizes the NIH for FY 2018 through FY 2020, including $34.851 billion in FY 2018, $35.585 billion in FY 2019, and $36.472 billion in FY 2020. The nearly thousand-page bill retains the many of the provisions passed by the House in 2015. The most notable change to the revamped bill is the creation of an ‚ÄúNIH Innovation Account‚ÄĚ that specifies annual funding levels for the next ten years (2017 -2026), described as a ‚Äútrust fund‚ÄĚ that would have to be approved annually by appropriators. The funding appropriated from the Innovation Account, however, will not count against budget caps. Those funds would be provided via the Prevention and Public Health Fund and Strategic Petroleum Reserves.

The Innovation Account would provide a total of $4.796 billion over ten years (including $352 million in FY 2017) for the following research areas: $1.4 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative; $1.6 billion for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative (BRAIN); and $1.8 billion to support cancer research. Senate Republicans renamed this portion of the bill to honor Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015. Vice President Biden has been leading the Administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative. The bill would also provide $30 million for NIH in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration for regenerative medicine using adult stem cells.[…]

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