04.06.16

At HELP Markup, Murray Applauds Steps to Help Patients and Families, Continues Call for Medical Research Funding

Murray highlights bipartisan legislation to better incorporate women, minority groups in clinical trials

 

Murray: “I’m very hopeful we can reach a bipartisan agreement that reflects the strong work done… and ensures that we invest in realizing the goals we’ve laid out.”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered opening remarks at a HELP Committee markup to consider legislation that will help remove obstacles to innovation and improve quality treatment for patients and families. In her remarks, Senator Murray applauded Committee members’ work on bipartisan legislation, and called on her colleagues to continue working together on remaining priorities. Senator Murray made very clear, once again, that any final agreement will need strong mandatory investments in the NIH and the FDA, as well as measures to enhance patient and consumer safety.  

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“I truly appreciate the strong bipartisan work our colleagues have done over the past several months, reaching agreement on policies that could lead to lifesaving medical breakthroughs, better care, and new treatments for patients across the country. Members of this committee have found common ground on ways to strengthen our nation’s health IT infrastructure, support the next generation of scientists and researchers, and help incorporate patient feedback into FDA decision-making, just to name a few. I’m very hopeful that those conversations will continue and that we’ll be able to reach a strong bipartisan result.”

 

“Senators Collins, Warren, Kirk, and Baldwin have worked with Chairman Alexander and I on a bill that addresses a problem I feel is really serious. And that is the lack of diversity in clinical trials. If we want all patients to be able to benefit from medical advances—we need to make sure clinical trials look as diverse as our country. Our bill would work to better incorporate women and minority populations into NIH research, including by creating a task force on research specific to pregnant and new mothers, requiring NIH to develop measures to report health information about sexual and gender minorities, and establishing a working group to improve analysis of sex differences in research.”

 

“But as I’ve made clear, to fully realize this goal—we need stronger mandatory investments in the NIH and the FDA, and we need additional steps to prioritize consumer safety and protection, especially when it comes to monitoring devices once they’re on the market.  I’m glad that Chairman Alexander has expressed willingness to work with us on these priorities. I’m very hopeful we can reach a bipartisan agreement that reflects the strong work done by members on both sides of the aisle, upholds the highest standards of patient and consumer safety, and ensures that we invest in realizing the goals we’ve laid out in the many bills we’ve worked on so far—by boosting investments in medical research and development at the NIH and the FDA.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you, Chairman Alexander.

 

“I truly appreciate the strong bipartisan work our colleagues have done over the past several months, reaching agreement on policies that could lead to lifesaving medical breakthroughs, better care, and new treatments for patients across the country.

 

“Members of this committee have found common ground on ways to strengthen our nation’s health IT infrastructure, support the next generation of scientists and researchers, and help incorporate patient feedback into FDA decision-making, just to name a few.

 

“There is much more we need to do in addition. And Chairman Alexander, I appreciate your comments recognizing the need, before this bill reaches the floor, to come to agreement on boosting mandatory investments in the NIH and the FDA.

 

“I’m very hopeful that those conversations will continue and that we’ll be able to reach a strong bipartisan result.

 

“And today, I’m pleased that we will be able to advance other valuable legislation that will remove some obstacles to innovation and quality treatment for patients and families. 

 

“Senators Collins, Warren, Kirk, and Baldwin have worked with Chairman Alexander and I on a bill that addresses a problem I feel is really serious. And that is the lack of diversity in clinical trials.

 

“If we want all patients to be able to benefit from medical advances—we need to make sure clinical trials look as diverse as our country.

 

“But according to a recent study, over the past 23 years only two percent of the 10,000 cancer clinical trials funded by the National Cancer Institute included enough minority participants to meet the NIH’s own targets.

 

“Too often, we lack much-needed data on the ways that specific medications impact mothers who are breastfeeding and their newborns.

 

“The LGBT community has also historically been underrepresented in clinical trials. And the NIH needs better tools to report on and analyze the different impacts of treatments on specific populations.

 

“Our bill would work to better incorporate women and minority populations into NIH research, including by creating a task force on research specific to pregnant and new mothers, requiring NIH to develop measures to report health information about sexual and gender minorities, and establishing a working group to improve analysis of sex differences in research.

 

“I’m proud to have worked with many of my colleagues here today on this bill and I look forward to supporting it.

 

“I also want to express my appreciation to Senators Bennet and Hatch. They’ve worked closely together on legislation to help make new antibiotics available for patients suffering from life-threatening infections, who simply don’t have other options. The final product meets a very real medical need.

 

“It strengthens tools at the FDA to help ensure these antibiotics are reserved for the sickest patients, like those in Washington state who became ill as a result of contaminated medical devices. And this bill also enhances CDC’s capacity to monitor antimicrobial resistance—all of which helps patients and families.

 

“Senator Bennet and Senator Hatch, thank you again for all your work. I also want to thank Senator Whitehouse for his work to advance the antibiotic stewardship provisions in this bill.

 

“And finally, I’m pleased that Senator Alexander and I have been able to work together on legislation to: help support President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, bring outstanding new researchers and scientists to the FDA, and streamline operations at the NIH to help ensure that experts there can focus on research, not paperwork.

 

“As is true of the other bills under discussion today, each of these are important steps that would help advance medical innovation and get safe, effective treatments to patients more quickly. I know that’s a goal all of us share.

 

“But as I’ve made clear, to fully realize this goal—we need stronger mandatory investments in the NIH and the FDA, and we need additional steps to prioritize consumer safety and protection, especially when it comes to monitoring devices once they’re on the market.

 

“I’m glad that Chairman Alexander has expressed willingness to work with us on these priorities.

 

“I’m very hopeful we can reach a bipartisan agreement that reflects the strong work done by members on both sides of the aisle, upholds the highest standards of patient and consumer safety, and ensures that we invest in realizing the goals we’ve laid out in the many bills we’ve worked on so far—by boosting investments in medical research and development at the NIH and the FDA.

 

“If we can reach this agreement—and I believe that we can—we’d be able to make a real difference in the lives of patients and families across the country.

 

“I want to thank my colleagues again for all their work—and I look forward to our continued efforts together.”