Global Supports 21st Century Cures Act

The House overwhelmingly passes the bipartisan legislation, which would increase NIH funding and potentially create a new era for Down syndrome research.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Congressman Fred Upton with Global's Michelle Sie Whitten and Kat LoewenCongresswoman Diana DeGette and Congressman Fred Upton with Global intern Kat Loewen and Global President & CEO Michelle Sie Whitten

Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton have been working on a new initiative that aims to accelerate the pace of cures and medical breakthroughs in the United States. Health research and innovation move at a rapid pace, and it is important to ensure the federal agencies involved in research and drug and device development have the necessary tools to keep up.

“We have dedicated scientists and bold leaders at agencies like the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), but when our laws don’t keep pace with innovation, we all lose,” as stated in the mission of the 21st Century Cures Act.

Under the 21st Century Cures Act, the NIH would receive at least an additional $1.75 billion per year for five consecutive years and the FDA will receive an additional $550 million per year during that term. These resources will support important new research and the safe and speedy approval of new treatments and therapies.

Global supports the legislation because it has the potential to dramatically increase the number of labs and the types of research into Down syndrome currently being funded by the NIH. Reps. DeGette and Upton met with Global executives Michelle Sie Whitten and David Charmatz, and Global intern Kat Loewen, along with leaders of over a dozen health care nonprofits in the Denver area on June 29 to discuss the 21st Century Cures Act.

“What a net positive for everyone – here is a way to increase funding without taking away from something else,” said Whitten, President and CEO of Global. “The Down syndrome community should get behind this in Congress in a big way and we’re here to help make that happen.”

21st Century Cures ActAbout the 21st Century Cures Act

DeGette and Upton took a comprehensive look at what steps could be taken to accelerate the pace of treatments and cures in the U.S. This bipartisan effort, launched more than one year ago, took a broad look at the full arc of the process – from spurring the latest discoveries in basic science, supporting the development of new, innovative drugs and devices, to ensuring the effective and efficient delivery of care to patients. The 21st Century Cures Act – introduced as H.R. 6 – passed the Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously on May 21, 2015, and passed the full House 344-77 on July 10.

The bill’s authors, DeGette, Upton, and Congressmen Joe Pitts, Frank Pallone Jr. and Gene Green, said: “Today, we took a big leap on the path to cures, but we still have much work left to do. The 344 votes today should be a springboard for action. On to the Senate.”

H.R. 6 would streamline various regulations and requirements to make sure researchers are able to comply with them, and it would eliminate duplication in the review process by fostering broader utilization of central institutional review boards (IRBs) for trials being conducted at multiple institutions.

The impact on Down syndrome research

Because Down syndrome remains one of the least-funded genetic conditions by the NIH, the potential for a new infusion of research funding promises to greatly expand upon the exciting work already being done on Down syndrome’s connection to Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and other ailments, diseases, and conditions. The hope is that such research will lead to treatments that benefit not only people with Down syndrome but also the typical population.

As part of the push for the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation will host a Town Hall Briefing with Congresswoman DeGette on Friday, August 7th, on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado. Registration for the briefing is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Follow the progress of the 21st Century Cures Act on Twitter with hashtags #Path2Cures and #Cures2015, and contact your senator to voice your support as legislation moves through the Senate.

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