BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood today sat down with Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) for a lively and in-depth discussion of the 21st Century Cures Initiative, a comprehensive effort to accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of new drugs and therapies.
The conversation was a great way to kick off the opening plenary of the 17th BIO CEO & Investor Conference. This year’s conference, as Greenwood noted, has a record number of partnering meetings and company presentations.
Over the course of the last year, Representatives Upton and DeGette, along with their colleagues on the Committee, have solicited feedback from stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem. They have traveled the country talking to patient groups, public officials, regulators, researchers, industry leaders and investors in an effort to solicit and identify the best possible ideas and proposals.
These conversations have helped lay the groundwork for an ambitious, bipartisan legislative effort. As Greenwood noted, “this effort is probably the best example of bipartisanship we have seen in a long time.” In her comments, Rep. DeGette talked about how staff from both offices are meeting regularly to draft legislative language and to work with key stakeholders.
Chairman Upton noted that there is not a family in America today that has not been affected by one of the approximately 7,000 diseases that impact society, and that we only have treatments and cures for about 500. The 21st Century Cures Initiative is focused on expediting the approval process for developing new cures and therapies for people facing these diseases.
The conversation also highlighted the important role that the 21st Cures Initiative can play in ensuring that America remains an economic engine for innovation and the important role that biotechnology plays in job creation and economic growth.
Rep. DeGette highlighted a number of her priorities for the legislation, including better incorporating patient perspectives into the drug development process, efforts to modernize clinical trials and opportunities to foster the future of science.
Other proposals discussed were a long-term longitudinal study focused on chronic diseases, incentives for unmet medical needs and the future of digital health. There also was broad agreement on the need to ensure certainty in the regulatory process, given its impact on private investment.
Chairman Upton, who recently released a 21st Century Cures discussion document, said he would like to have a bill on the floor of the House of Representatives before Memorial Day and to the President for his signature before the end of the year.
Both Chairman Upton and Rep. DeGette, who serves as the Chief Deputy Whip of the Democratic Caucus, believe that they can garner overwhelming majorities of votes in the House for this important effort. The Committee is continuing to solicit input and will be releasing a second discussion document in the coming weeks. Both Chairman Upton and Rep. DeGette encouraged attendees to remain engaged in this important process.