"Cures" is now law.
With over 10,000 diseases in the world and only 500 known cures, it is important we work to foster new and innovative approaches to finding cures and delivering hope for patients. After a three-year-long journey through Congress, I am happy to tell you the 21st Century Cures Act—a transformational, bipartisan, and fully-offset bill to change the way we treat disease, modernize medical research, and ensure America remains a leader in biomedical innovation—became law last week.
This bill brings much needed reforms to the way we look at healthcare research. In addition to prioritizing new and cutting-edge research, modernizing and reforming the FDA, and investing in programs to incentivize innovative new treatments, the bill contained provisions that will help Americans coast-to-coast.
I have seen first-hand the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s, having lost family members to the disease. The number of Americans living with Alzheimer's disease is growing — and growing fast. An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's disease in 2016. These numbers will escalate rapidly in coming years, as the baby boom generation has begun to reach age 65 and beyond, the age range of greatest risk of Alzheimer's. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease may nearly triple, from 5.2 million to a projected 13.8 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent or cure the disease.
This bill invests $1.5 billion into the National Institute of Health’s BRAIN Initiative, which will improve our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s, and hopefully lead us to a cure.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
Missourians, like many Americans, are being hit hard by the scourge of opioid addiction which takes more than 40 lives each day nationwide. Bolstering the states’ efforts to combat these diseases will help keep families together and strengthen communities.
This bill provides $1 billion for grants to states to supplement opioid abuse prevention and treatment activities, such as improving prescription drug monitoring programs and implementing prevention programs.
Making Mental Health a Priority
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, which I co-sponsored, has been included in this bill as well. This measure, which makes mental health a national priority, originally passed the House in July.
We have all experienced the pain and suffering that stems from mental illness, but none more so than the families of those afflicted. They are often left feeling too helpless and hopeless to act. Our current mental health system is outdated and needs to be reformed. This bill takes us a step in the right direction, reforming our mental health system to help patients get the treatment they need.
The pace of scientific advancement over the past two decades, including the mapping of the human genome, has been impressive. Translating these discoveries into new FDA-approved treatments, however, has proven difficult.
This legislation brings American health care infrastructure into the 21st century. It invests nearly $9 billion in new resources for a medical research innovation fund at the National Institutes of Health that will target diseases for which there is not yet a cure. 21st Century Cures also supports the Food and Drug Administration with new resources to keep pace with medical innovation, including new drugs and devices that need expert review. This bill also brings the patient perspective to the heart of research and development, and seeks to foster better use of personalized medicine and more participation in clinical trials.
This bill delivers cutting-edge advancements to health care and spurs the discovery and development of life-saving treatments. It offers hope to millions of Americans facing impossible odds. This bill is a big win for all Americans, and I am happy it is now law.