Oncology Organizations Applaud Passage of the 21st Century Cures Act

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On Tuesday, December 13, President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Cures Act, landmark legislation designed to improve and accelerate the pace of biomedical research in the United States. ASCO Chief Executive Officer Clifford Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO, attended the White House signing ceremony to witness the culmination of 3 years of intensive advocacy effort by ASCO and its members.

“This historic legislation brings new hope to millions of Americans facing life-threatening diseases and to their families,” said Dr. Hudis. “Not only does the 21st Century Cures Act reduce some of the major barriers to advancing cancer research, the measure also provides critical authority to federal research agencies to accomplish major priorities for the cancer community, including the Cancer Moonshot and Precision Medicine Initiatives.”

“Enacting 21st Century Cures is a momentous achievement and, potentially, an important pivot point for cancer research progress,” said Dr. Hudis. “ASCO commends President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Members of Congress for their leadership and commitment to bringing this legislation across the finish line.”

Statement by ASCO President Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FACP, FASCO

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“This landmark legislation will spur development and delivery of promising new treatments for patients. [ASCO recognizes] the tremendous effort and dedication that went into advancing this legislation, and we’re thrilled the bill [was signed by] President Obama.

“ASCO represents over 40,000 physicians and other health-care professionals who care for people with cancer, and as a Society we understand all too well the challenge of developing the treatments and cures that will make a difference to patients. Thankfully, due to breakthroughs in precision medicine and renewed federal commitment to cancer research, most patients with cancer have better treatment outcomes than ever before. The passage of the 21st Century Cures Act will help us continue this momentum and build on this incredible scientific progress to offer all patients hope and better treatment options.

“The remarkable bipartisan, bicameral support for the 21st Century Cures Act proves that congressional lawmakers are serious about the need for scientific research, effective care delivery, and the removal of barriers to scientific progress. We thank Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) for their persistent effort and leadership in advancing this legislation in the Senate. ASCO stands ready as a resource to support the implementation of Cures, as well as other legislation to advance cancer care.”

Statement by MD Anderson President Ronald A. DePinho, MD

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“With strong bipartisan support, the U.S. House and Senate have passed transformative legislation, the 21st Century Cures Act, which will support the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug-development process, facilitate regenerative cellular therapy, and provide vital funding for biomedical research—most notably, the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative, renamed the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot under the new law.

“At a time of unprecedented opportunity to prevent, detect, and treat cancer, support for the White House Cancer Moonshot is critical to future success. Increased funding for brilliant and dedicated researchers will accelerate the development of new life-saving advances to help us write these diseases into the history books.

“Many share in the passage of this historic legislation that honors the legacy of Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau Biden. Most notably, a critical catalytic role was played by Act for the National Institute of Health, a nonpartisan campaign for biomedical research founded by the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors member Jed Manocherian. Additional leadership was shown by MD Anderson’s Governmental Relations team, led by Mark Moreno; our Board of Visitors Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Wayne Gibbons and Sam Susser; and Board of Visitors member Ed Bosarge, who inspired advancement in regenerative medicine. This achievement serves as a shining example of how MD Anderson’s highly respected Board of Visitors harnesses its passion in Making Cancer History.

“At MD Anderson, our scientists and clinicians persist in our long campaign against cancer. Since its launch in 2012, our Moon Shots Program, which inspired the national call to action, already has shifted the paradigm in the united fight against cancer and continues to find innovative ways to accelerate the prevention and cure of cancer. The 21st Century Cures Act provides rocket fuel to propel us all to greater advances and sustain our nation’s leadership in medicine and science.”

Statement by AACR President Nancy Davidson, MD, and AACR Chief Executive Officer Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

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“On behalf of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), we wish to express our sincere appreciation to the U.S. Senate, which passed the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures) by an overwhelming majority of 94–5. We also specifically acknowledge Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) for their leadership and unwavering commitment to ensuring the passage of the bill.

“In addition, we want to recognize and thank Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KT) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for co-sponsoring an amendment that renamed the cancer portion of the bill after Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau Biden, who passed away from brain cancer in May 2015.

“The NIH Innovation Account, established by Cures, provides $4.8 billion in supplemental funding for important medical research programs, of which $1.8 billion over 7 years is to support cancer research through the “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot.” This targeted, multiyear funding will help support the 10 cutting-edge scientific recommendations identified by the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative Blue Ribbon Panel for realizing the Vice President’s goal of achieving 10 years of progress within the next 5 years.

“We are also grateful that the fiscal year 2017 continuing resolution that is currently under consideration would provide $300 million for the “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot.”

“However, it is vitally important that the NIH also receive robust, sustained, and predictable annual funding increases, and therefore, we call on Congress to make sure that the funds for medical research that are included in Cures are in addition to the money NIH receives each year through the regular appropriations process.

“The 37,000 members of the AACR, who are laboratory researchers, physician-scientists, other health-care professionals, and patient advocates, are pleased with President Obama’s signing this legislation into law, and we stand ready to work with next year’s Congress and President-Elect Trump’s administration to continue our efforts to seize on the unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the pace of our scientific efforts for the benefit of the millions of Americans and their loved ones touched by cancer.” ■




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