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Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

Representing the 21st District of New York

Op-Ed: 21st Century Cures Act is a Bold Plan to Advance New Medical Treatments

July 21, 2015
In The News

Whether it is a child caring for an elderly parent who is suffering, a spouse receiving disheartening news about the health of their loved one, or a parent tearfully listening to devastating news about their child's diagnosis, every single family in our district has faced health challenges.

The unfortunate odds for every reader are that you, a family member, or a close friend of yours suffers from an incurable disease. This problem stems from the staggering reality that while there are over 10,000 known diseases, we only have cures and treatments for about 500 of them.

This leaves those afflicted by diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s to cancer hoping for medical breakthroughs that can cure these diseases and help improve standards of living for those suffering.

The House of Representatives recently passed a very exciting and innovative plan to help our country work to address these incurable diseases. And I am incredibly proud to have been a cosponsor of one of the most significant and hopeful bills in the 114th Congress.

While medical science and innovation can often make breakthrough discoveries that we hear and read about on the news, the results of these achievements can take years or even decades to translate into effective treatments for everyday Americans who are suffering.

The bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, legislation authored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, seeks to bring our medical infrastructure into the 21st century through a series of investments and reforms that will help speed the delivery of medical science to your doctor’s office.

Working with scientists, researchers, patients and innovators, this bold legislation was crafted to promote scientific research into these diseases while working to use best practices and new technology to translate medical breakthroughs into new treatments and cures.

The plan begins by investing in more science and research. By setting aside an “Innovation Fund,” the 21st Century Cures Act gives funding to the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that is dedicated for the purposes of 21st century scientific medical research as well as researchers working on the next generation of drugs.

This legislation also removes barriers that currently stand in the way between successful research and achieving modern treatments at the patient level. It promotes increased collaborative research of health data and strengthens the FDA’s ability to use patient experiences with clinical trials to incorporate their perspective into the drug development and regulatory review process.

The 21st Century Cures Act would also advance personalized medicine and make sure that patients can be treated based on their unique characteristics.

In addition, the development of modern health and medical apps holds tremendous potential for researchers wanting to study real time patient data. This legislation breaks down regulatory barriers for developers of medical apps so that these innovative health tools can be better incorporated into clinical research.

Right now, research and treatment into rare diseases is made difficult by the small size of the populations affected and lengthy drug developments processes. The 21st Century Cures Act creates new economic incentives for researchers and innovators to develop treatments and cures for these diseases that will help translate into more research and faster cures.

Furthermore, I am very excited that this legislation includes a measure authored by Congressman Chris Gibson that I cosponsored called the Tick-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act.

Too often I speak with parents of children who have been diagnosed with Lyme Disease across our district, and this important measure will help combat this epidemic by establishing a working group to review available research into this disease and by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and submit a strategic plan to finally address it.

And while legislation this sweeping often comes with a hefty price tag, through reforms to our medical system, the 21st Century Cures Act will reduce our nation’s deficit by approximately $500 million over the next decade

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