Michigan Newspaper on 21st Century Cures: “A goal everyone in Washington and around the country should be able to get behind.”

May 29, 2014

The committee’s recently launched 21st Century Cures initiative continues to draw support because of the profound effect this bipartisan effort could have on the lives of all Americans. The Holland Sentinel editorial board in southwest Michigan today joined the chorus of supporters enthusiastic about 21st Century Cures. The editorial board writes that Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) is “making his effort to reform the cumbersome and expensive federal drug approval process a bipartisan operation … instead of rushing out a finished piece of legislation, he’s taking the time to listen first — not just to pharmaceutical companies and regulators, but to scientists, doctors and patients as well.” Over the last month, the committee has released three white papers and held the first roundtable and hearing to solicit ideas for how to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery process for breakthrough medical innovations. Learn more about the 21st Century Cures initiative here

May 29, 2014

Our View: Bring drug approval process into the 21st century

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton is employing two unusual strategies in his new “21st Century Cures” initiative. First, he’s making his effort to reform the cumbersome and expensive federal drug approval process a bipartisan operation, teaming with Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, one of the ranking Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee that Upton chairs. Second, instead of rushing out a finished piece of legislation, he’s taking the time to listen first — not just to pharmaceutical companies and regulators, but to scientists, doctors and patients as well. …

Upton likes to say that the drug approval process, largely implemented in the mid-1960s, is stuck in the “Sgt. Pepper era,” when people lined up at record stores to buy new music instead of downloading it to their iPods. We don’t believe the mere fact that the rules are old make them inadequate, but so much has changed in the past 50 years in terms of understanding genetics and molecular biology that it’s worth re-examining the scientific and medical assumptions on which those rules were based. …

Upton has outlined several other goals:

• Encouraging “personalized medicine” by better applying knowledge of the human genome, scarcely understood when the current approval process was put in place.

• Harnessing the power of social media and computer networks to broaden and speed clinical trials.

• Helping the FDA modify its “risk culture.” Upton maintains the scientific and social tools exist to maintain safety while more rapidly approving innovative treatments.

• Fostering better partnerships between the government, drug companies, scientists, doctors and patients.

Upton is well-positioned to advance the initiative. He has another full term ahead of him as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee after this year and he enjoys the support of leaders of both parties in the House. Importantly, he is one of the few members of Congress with the experience and inclination to work across the aisle with members of the opposing party.

Talking about clinical trials and testing protocols can all sound very bureaucratic, but this initiative comes down to something very basic and very personal — saving lives. That’s a goal everyone in Washington and around the country should be able to get behind.

Read the article online HERE.  

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