On May 21, the House Energy & Commerce Committee unanimously passed H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill is intended to modernize the nation's biomedical innovation infrastructure and hasten the pace of cures, this bill comes after almost a year of fact-finding and will quickly be scheduled for consideration by the entire House.
The bill would alter the antibiotic process, create new disease research initiatives, establish new incentives for drug makers to study rare conditions and place a much greater focus on patient data to encourage more "personalized medicine."
In addition to the House's efforts with 21st Century Cures, the Senate is separately considering the need for medical innovation legislation. On April 28, 2015, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee held its own hearing on medical innovation with participation from FDA and NIH officials. Unlike the House E&C Committee, the Senate HELP Committee has not released any legislative proposals, so it remains to be seen how similar or different the Senate and House bills will be.
While Chairman Upton has indicated he would like to consider the 21st Century Cures Act on the House floor in early summer, the Senate is unlikely to consider companion legislation this year. Rather, leaders of the Senate HELP have acknowledged that they do not anticipate significant movement on their parallel legislation until early 2016.