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CLSA in GEN News: 21st Century Cures Act Heads for Obama Signature After Senate Approval
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GEN News Highlights | View Article at Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News | Dec. 8, 2016

The 21st Century Cures Act is heading for signature into law by President Barack Obama, following its passage yesterday by the U.S. Senate in another lopsided bipartisan vote.

The 94 to 5 Senate vote came a week after 21st Century Cures overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives by 392 to 26. Senate passage was all but assured on Monday when the Senate, with Vice President Biden presiding, approved by 85 to 13 a procedural “cloture” vote ending debate on the measure.

Senators voting against 21st Century Cures yesterday were Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Sanders and Warren had spoken out publicly against the bill, asserting that it overly favored the interests of biopharma giants over patients and should have included provisions to contain rising prescription drug prices.

Echoing that view was a public advocacy group critical of the pharmaceutical industry, Public Citizen: “It is sorely disappointing that Congress gave Big Pharma and the medical device industry an early Christmas present,” Michael Carome, M.D., director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, said in a statement.

Research advocates and industry groups, however, praised the Senate vote and the prospect of the Cures Act becoming law, saying the measure will help speed up approval of new drugs and maintain U.S. leadership in research, while tackling a host of disease and health priorities ranging from cancer to the opioid epidemic.

“The bill is a crucial step toward removing barriers to innovation, securing funding for major initiatives like the Cancer Moonshot, and streamlining drug development to ensure more patients benefit more quickly from lifesaving therapies and devices,” Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley said in a statement.

While praising most of the amended Cures Act, Research!America took issue with Congress’ paying for the legislation in part by holding off on future increases in the Prevention and Public Health Fund—created through the Affordable Care Act to fund programs designed to improve health outcomes and enhance healthcare quality—saying the decision “will inevitably impact efforts to address health threats.”

Sara Radcliffe, President & CEO of the California Life Sciences Association, hailed the legislation as “a landmark, bipartisan package of innovative reforms that will help propel the U.S. life sciences research, investment, and innovation ecosystem, benefiting patients here and around the world for many years to come.”

Read the full article at GEN News.