This Wednesday, the House of Representatives decided to approve a massive bill that includes reforms such as shortening drug approval review times and boosting research. This $6.3 billion bill received widespread support on both sides, along with the support of the Obama administration. This bill was approved on a 392-26 vote, and will be making its way to the Senate next week for approval.
Although the main purpose of the bill is to speed up approval for drugs, there are also a number of other important reforms in the bills. One of the other reforms in the bill is to provide over $5 billion to the National Institute of Health, along with providing an additional $1 billion to fight opioid addiction and measures that help Americans who suffer from mental illnesses.
This bill had been in the works for more than two years, encompassing over 19 different core measures. This bill was originally sponsored by Republican Representative Fred Upton of Michigan. The money to pay for this new legislation will come from other cuts in spending, such as Medicaid fees from medical equipment and through selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. House Speaker Paul Ryan said that the provision “is going to be a game changer… It will fundamentally transform the way that we treat and cure diseases in this country.”
This bill has received the support of many patients, on the basis that patients want certain drugs to be approved for use faster if there is any indication of them working, instead of having these drugs go through a very comprehensive approval process. Because of this same reasons, there have also been many opponents who say that this legislation will allow for drugs with limited research into side effects and other possible implications to be passed on to the public.
There was also another provision in the bill that got rejected; it outlined a process that would make it easier for drug companies to hide payments to doctors under the cover of continuing education. This last minute drop was beneficial to the public; with drug prices increasing every day, it would just make it easier for drug companies to disguise how much they are actually charging. President-elect Donald Trump has not made any remarks about the legislation so far.