21st Century Cures Initiative Offers Hope
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) recently announced the 21st Century Cures initiative. This unique effort aims to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery cycle for new medical breakthroughs and find more cures and treatments while also creating jobs and keeping America as the innovation center of the world. Chairman Upton, along with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), have made clear that the first step in this process is to solicit input and ideas and listen to experts and innovators. Last week the committee held its first roundtable with leaders from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and thought leaders in the health care innovation space. As James Pinkerton described in Brietbart, “several hundred people gathered for an expression of hopeful humanity, a flowering of bipartisan cooperation on behalf of an important issue – namely, medical cures. Come to think of it, it’s fair to say that medical cures are more than an important issue; they are, in the most literal sense, a vital, life-saving issue.”
May 9, 2014
Hope Comes to RHOB 2123: Fred Upton Leads a Cure Strategy for the 21st Century
By James Pinkerton
The white-marble Rayburn House Office Building, in Washington DC, looks like a giant courts building or a central bank, fully intimidating and imposing in its hulking stony blockiness.
And the US Congress, of course, is an institution best known for its tedium, albeit a tedium that is regularly punctuated by fiery partisan combat. On a typical day, the Rayburn building–acronymed as RHOB–is a place where politicos and bureaucrats struggle for and against some special interest, yea or nay, on regulation or appropriation. …
In such a grinding environment, one never knows when genuine hope will pop up. Indeed, amidst the thrum of institutional activity, a sighting of hope might seem improbable.
Yet on Tuesday, inside the marbled majesty of RHOB, several hundred people gathered for an expression of hopeful humanity, a flowering of bipartisan cooperation on behalf of an important issue–namely, medical cures. Come to think of it, it’s fair to say that medical cures are more than an important issue; they are, in the most literal sense, a vital, life-saving issue.
In fact, not many in Washington have noticed, but the number of new drugs, antibiotics, and medical devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration is lower today–dangerously lower–than it was 15 or 20 years ago.
How did this fall-off happen? How did this “cure crash” occur, right under the noses of Washington officialdom? In truth, the decline of medicine in America is deeply ironic, insofar as American politics has been vexed by healthcare controversies for a full quarter-century: first, the Hillarycare debate of the 90s and then, more recently, Obamacare. In other words, while DC politicos have been fighting over health insurance, the more fundamental issue of health itself–is there a treatment, or a cure, for what ails us?–has been mostly ignored. …
Fortunately, one little-known but very powerful Member of Congress has said, “Enough!” …
Today, as a Republican chairman, Upton envisions a different kind of transformation–the revival of the “pipeline” of American-made treatment and cures. Fully mindful of the reality of divided government, he wants to engineer this revival in cooperation with like-minded Democrats. The idea of both sides working together on behalf of cures might not seem particularly radical, but DC is so polarized that there’d be a fight over a resolution praising motherhood–to say nothing of a resolution praising apple pie.
Yet hope springs eternal, even in DC. On Tuesday in 2123 RHOB, the hearing room of E & C, Upton announced that he is working toward a “21st century cures initiative,” which he defined as “a collaborative, bipartisan effort that aims to accelerate the pace of cures and medical breakthroughs in the US.” In so announcing and defining, Upton made a significant departure from the familiar battle-as-usual pattern of Congress.
Upton emphasized that he would be working with his Democratic E & C colleague, Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado. This duo, he continued, would be working together to “review the full arc” of drug development and delivery.
Upton described the cures issue as a twofer: improved medical treatment and improved economic development. The goal, he said, is to “cure the patients, and keep more jobs in the US. What family isn’t affected by this?” And so he asked, “What steps do we need to take as a nation to accelerate new cures and keep America as the innovation capital of the world?” …
At the close of the session, Upton reminded the audience that this was just the first of many such hearings, to be held across the country. As he noted, the success of the whole effort depends on public support; that is, if the American people want to see a new commitment to the idea of cures, they will have to make their voice heard. And so he provided an e-mail address to make the public-input process as easy as possible: firstname.lastname@example.org. As a Reagan administration alumnus, Upton remembers the success that the Gipper enjoyed when he sought to mobilize the public for action on such issues as tax reform. Upton might not be The Great Communicator–who is?–but he has a powerful issue on his hands. …
Read the entire article online HERE.