Health Subcommittee Examines How Incentives Can Be Used to Accelerate #Path2Cures

June 11, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), today held its second hearing of the 21st Century Cures initiative, “Examining the Role of Incentives in Advancing Treatments and Cures for Patients.” Subcommittee members heard from a number of experts and stakeholders on what role incentives for drug and device development play in accelerating the #Path2Cures.

Marc Boutin, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the National Health Council, explained that this effort is ultimately about patients, stating, “The magnitude of patient need is great. More than 133 million Americans – over 40% of the U.S. population – live with a chronic disease or disability. But for many people there are no treatments, and existing treatments work for only 50-75% of the patients who currently use them. There are limited treatment options for too many diseases and disabilities, including mental health aliments, neurological, autoimmune and many rare diseases, or for the prevention of various diseases and disabilities.”

Boutin added, “Current policies have not kept pace with the evolution of science… Two situations currently prevent some promising medicines from being development and making it to the market and patients: (1) a complete lack of patent protection, and (2) the lack of a predictable and sufficient period of patent protection once the medicine enters the market.”

Dr. Samuel Gandy, testifying on behalf of Dr. Kenneth Davis, President and CEO of the Mt. Sinai Health System, said, “While the solution on how to incentivize drug development may be debated, we all can agree that the problem is pervasive: too many individuals in this country are suffering from chronic conditions without the aid of therapeutics. Not only does this have a harmful impact on families, but we must also remember that the lack of therapeutics for chronic diseases places an enormous strain on our country’s finances. Chronic conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, are an enormous part of the cost to our health care system. Without novel therapeutics to prevent or better treat these conditions, costs will only escalate. We must find a better solution than the status quo.”

Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) asked Mike Carusi, testifying on behalf of National Venture Capital Association, about the sharp decrease in the number of venture capital firms investing in medical technology. Carusi noted, “We have been forced to go elsewhere. … We have seen other countries that are very interested in building their own life sciences ecosystem invest in venture capital funds directly in return for us locating our companies in those local geographies.” Upton also asked Alexis Borisy, Partner at Third Rock Ventures, about how advancements in technology can help encourage more innovation in the development of new drugs and devices.

 

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Pitts added, “To help close the innovation gap, as part of the 21st Century Cures initiative, we must take a fresh look at the challenges facing innovative companies and make certain the right incentives are in place so America is home to the next generation of cures. The Hatch-Waxman Act created the modern generic drug industry as we know it and has brought great benefits to our nation’s patients and health care system. Nonetheless, as Senator Hatch recently explained, since the early 1980s, ‘the cost of developing a drug has doubled, as has the number of clinical trials necessary to file a new drug application. [Further,] [t]he number of participants required for those trials has tripled.”

Learn more about the committee’s 21st Century Cures initiative online here, join the effort on Facebook and Twitter, and contribute to the conversation by using #Path2Cures or emailing cures@mail.house.gov.