Why the 21st Century Cures Act Could Be Disastrous for Medicine

Why would anyone vote against “cures,” especially “21st century cures?” That question is the key to understanding how the U.S. House of Representatives, whose members usually can’t agree on anything, overwhelmingly passed a 996-page health bill yesterday — just a few days after the bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, was written behind closed doors.

Here’s why many health policy and consumer advocacy groups — including the National Center for Health Research, where I work — strongly oppose the bill and are asking senators not to pass the bill next week: On the bright side, the bill promises more than $6 billion dollars over the next few years for medical research and to fight the opioid epidemic. On the other hand, the ‘promise’ of that money does not include anything resembling a guarantee that the money will be provided for that purpose.

If the bill passes, those 996 pages of mostly unintelligible legislative language will influence important issues that affect all of us. Most importantly, the bill instructs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help drug and device companies get their products on the market more quickly. Unfortunately, it does that by loosening and lowering the very scientific standards that have made FDA approval the gold standard for countries around the world.[…]

Don’t be distracted by the false promises of funds for medical research. The reality is that there is too much in this bill that would dismantle the structures that help physicians make informed decisions and keep us all safe.

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