01.30.15

Alexander to Meet with White House on Precision Medicine Initiative

Senate health committee chairman has released report, announced bipartisan Senate process to examine challenges of getting cutting-edge treatments, devices and cures to American patients

***

“We have a real opportunity to work together and get a result so that cutting-edge medicine begins reaching patients more quickly, while still preserving this nation’s gold standard for safety and quality …The President has recognized this, Chairman Upton in the House is working on this, and I have spoken with Secretary Burwell about our plans in the Senate health committee to work in a bipartisan way to modernize the way drugs and medical devices are discovered, developed, and ‎reviewed.” – Lamar Alexander

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 30 –Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced he will be attending a White House event today to discuss the details of the President’s precision medicine initiative.

Alexander yesterday released a joint report with Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) titled, “Innovation for Healthier Americans,” on the challenges to getting safe treatments, devices and cures to patients more quickly and effectively, examining what is working, and what isn’t, at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“We have a real opportunity to work together and get a result so that cutting-edge medicine begins reaching patients more quickly, while still preserving this nation’s gold standard for safety and quality,” said Alexander.‎ “The President has recognized this, Chairman Upton in the House is working on this, and I have spoken with Secretary Burwell about our plans in the Senate health committee to work in a bipartisan way to modernize the way drugs and medical devices are discovered, developed, and reviewed. I look forward to hearing the specifics of the President’s proposal and working with him on this critically important issue.”

Alexander and Burr are soliciting feedback on their report as Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) begin a major initiative in the Senate health committee —including a bipartisan working group and a series of hearings—to examine the time and cost currently involved with the drug and medical device discovery and development process, and how to better align public policies to support medical innovation. This effort is parallel and complementary to “21st Century Cures,” the House effort led by Chairman Upton.

Dr. Francis Collins, Director of NIH, wrote in the 2013 NIH Director’s Report that, “Drugs exist for only about 250 of the more than 4,400 conditions with defined molecular causes.  And it takes far too long and far too much money to get a new drug into our medicine cabinets.  This is an old problem that cries out for new and creative solutions.” Since then, the number of conditions with defined molecular causes has increased to 5,389, yet the number of new drugs approved has not kept pace with these discoveries.

# # #

Press Contact

Margaret Atkinson 202-224-2465