This week, President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act – a bill that promises additional funding for cancer research and opioid addiction prevention – into law. The legislation will allocate $1.8 billion for a cancer research “moonshot” project, which has gained tremendous support from Vice President Joe Biden.
In all, the 21st Century Cures Act will provide $6.3 billion in additional funding towards multiple large-scale projects. Under the bill, states will be provided with $1 billion in funding over a two year period to use towards the prevention and treatment of opioids and other drug addictions.
The bill will also change the way the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves new drugs, potentially allowing them to accept alternative data sources to expedite the approvals process. Patient advocacy groups like Public Citizen have been strongly opposed to this part of the act, arguing that it will weaken the drug approvals process.
“This bill remains a bad deal for patient safety, offering a small, temporary and non-guaranteed increase in public research funding at the expense of permanently weakening oversight by the Food and Drug Administration,” said a spokesperson from Public Citizen. The group is a non-profit organization that aims to represent all US citizens, and their interests, in Washington, D.C.
The signing event represented a rare moment of bipartisanship, with both parties offering their support for the bill. “I hope this bodes well for what will come next year – that we’re back working together,” said Biden.
The 21st Century Cures Act was passed in the US House of Representatives earlier this month in a landslide 392 to 26 vote. As predicted, the bill easily passed through the Senate to allow it to be signed into law before the close of 2016.