Health Subcommittee Looks to Build on Record of Bipartisan Success in Improving Public Health

May 28, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) today advanced three bipartisan bills, building on its record of bipartisan success in the public health space. The subcommittee today approved H.R. 4299, the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act, H.R. 4709, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, and H.R. 4631, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act.

“Our committee has had great bipartisan success on the public health front with more than a dozen committee bills already becoming law this Congress. And today, we look to build on that success. I commend Chairman Pitts for his leadership as our work to improve the public health continues,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

H.R. 4299, introduced by Pitts and Subcommittee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ), would amend the Controlled Substances Act to improve efficiency, transparency, and consistency of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s process for scheduling new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Pitts commented, “H.R. 4299 simply requires DEA to issue an Interim Final Rule no later than 45 days after it receives FDA’s scheduling recommendation for a new drug, allowing patients access to new therapies while still ensuring that appropriate controls are in place.”

H.R. 4709, the Ensuring Patient Access to Effective Drug Enforcement Act, was introduced by full committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Reps. Tom Marino (R-PA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Judy Chu (D-CA). This bill would improve enforcement efforts regarding prescription drug diversion and abuse. Ahead of the subcommittee vote, Blackburn stated, “Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that’s greatly in need of a solution. There needs to be a clear distinction between the legitimate pharmaceutical supply chain that directly serves patients and the criminals who are diverting and selling illegal drugs. Supply chain stakeholders need further guidance on how to collaborate more effectively with law enforcement. Stated simply, their obligation to prevent diversion is only achievable if the DEA and other regulators will work with them to get it done. That’s why I worked with my colleagues Tom Marino, Peter Welch, and Judy Chu, in crafting H.R. 4709, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act.”     

Finally, H.R. 4631, introduced by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Michael Doyle (D-PA), would extend the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 to continue federal research, early identification and intervention, and education related to autism as well as the activities of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Community. Upton explained, “In the face of growing prevalence, it is critical that we continue to support those with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families by supporting Autism research and passing H.R. 4631. The Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute offered to the bill reflects our continued work and cooperation with the Senate on this priority.” The amendment to H.R. 4631 passed by voice vote.

Each of the three public health bills was approved by voice vote.

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