02.09.16

Murray Applauds Bipartisan Work in Committee Markup, Continues Call for Investment In Lifesaving Medical Research

Murray: “As I’ve made clear—the path to a bipartisan deal on medical innovation must include mandatory investments in the NIH and the FDA, and must uphold the gold standard of FDA approval.”

 

Bills in the markup address preventing superbug infections linked to scopes, improving our nation’s health IT infrastructure

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered remarks at a HELP Committee markup of several bipartisan bills regarding the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including Senator Murray’s bill to help improve the safety of reusable medical devices after contaminated devices known as duodenoscopes were linked to life-threatening, antibiotic-resistant infections in Washington state and across the country.

 

Also included in the markup was Senator Murray and Chairman Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) bill to strengthen our nation’s health IT infrastructure through improvements that would make health IT systems more accessible and convenient for patients and providers. In her remarks, Senator Murray urged Republicans to work with Democrats on a bipartisan effort to advance medical innovation that reflects priorities like mandatory investments in the NIH and FDA, as well as additional steps to uphold the gold standard of FDA approval. The bills passed the committee unanimously.

 

The other bills included in the markup were:

 

  • The FDA Device Accountability Act of 2015 (S.1622), sponsored by Sens. Burr (R-N.C.) and Franken (D-Minn.);
  • The Advancing Targeted Therapies for Rare Diseases Act of 2015 (S.2030), sponsored by Sens. Bennet (D-Colo.), Burr (R-N.C.), Warren (D-Mass.), and Hatch (R-Utah);
  • The Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act of 2015 (S.849), sponsored by Sens. Isakson (R-Ga.) and Murphy (D-Conn.);
  • The Next Generation Researchers Act (S.2014), sponsored by Sens. Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Collins (R-Maine); and
  • The Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at the NIH Act (S. 800), sponsored by Sens. Kirk (D-Ill.), Bennet (D-Colo.), Hatch (R-Utah), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Isakson (R-Ga.), and Collins (R-Maine).

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“This markup is the result of a lot of strong, bipartisan work—work that I hope we can see more of in the coming weeks. Today, we have the opportunity to take some important steps toward improving our health care system for patients and families. Helping patients recover from illness begins, of course, with having the safest, most effective drugs and treatments available. And that requires innovation and research.”

“Our nation’s health IT infrastructure is another area where there is a lot of momentum, and a lot of opportunity to make more progress for patients. Along with many of our colleagues, especially Senators Whitehouse and Cassidy, Chairman Alexander and I have worked together on legislation that would take some important steps to strengthen health IT in this country. The Improving Health IT Act would make it easier for providers to vote with their feet when it comes to electronic health records systems.”

“As many of you know, I’ve also been very focused on the tragic outbreaks of infections linked to contaminated medical devices called duodenoscopes in my home state. Similar outbreaks have also occurred in hospitals across the country and internationally. I asked my staff to investigate how the outbreaks could have occurred in the first place, and what Congress could do to protect patients and families going forward. So I’m pleased to be introducing a bill today that would take some initial steps to improve patient safety, by giving the FDA additional tools to review and ensure the safety of medical devices.”

“As we continue the discussion about how to advance medical innovation, I hope we can see more bipartisan efforts like these. Because I have a lot of confidence that if we continue working together, we can get much more done to support patients and families. We all share the goal of getting safe, affordable, effective new treatments to patients across the country who are waiting for them. I believe strongly than we can’t realize this goal without sustained investments in innovative medical research and efforts to ensure patient and consumer safety. So as I’ve made clear—the path to a bipartisan deal on medical innovation must include mandatory investments in the NIH and the FDA, and must uphold the gold standard of FDA approval.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks as submitted for the record:

“Thank you, Chairman Alexander.

 

“And thank you to all of our colleagues for joining us today. I really want to express my appreciation to Chairman Alexander and everyone here for their efforts. This markup is the result of a lot of strong, bipartisan work—work that I hope we can see more of in the coming weeks.

 

“Today, we have the opportunity to take some important steps toward improving our health care system for patients and families. Helping patients recover from illness begins, of course, with having the safest, most effective drugs and treatments available. And that requires innovation and research.

 

“So I’m very pleased that the legislation we’re voting on today includes measures to help maintain our country’s leadership in medical innovation by supporting the next generation of researchers. This is something Senators Baldwin and Collins have championed. I really appreciate their efforts, and Senator Franken’s efforts to address the student loan burden shouldered by many young scientists.

 

“I’m also looking forward to supporting legislation championed by Senators Kirk and Bennet to advance rehabilitation research, as well as legislation from Senators Isakson and Murphy, which would help improve our understanding of complex diseases like Parkinson’s and MS that have tragic impacts on so many of our friends and loved ones.

 

“When I talk to researchers and experts back in my home state, they make clear we’re at a truly exciting time when it comes to tackling especially difficult medical challenges like these, and I’m glad we’re taking some steps today to help move these efforts forward.

 

“Our nation’s health IT infrastructure is another area where there is a lot of momentum, and a lot of opportunity to make more progress for patients. Along with many of our colleagues, especially Senators Whitehouse and Cassidy, Chairman Alexander and I have worked together on legislation that would take some important steps to strengthen health IT in this country.

 

“The Improving Health IT Act would make it easier for providers to vote with their feet when it comes to electronic health records systems. It would end the unfair practice of “information blocking”, offer new tools to help move the market for health IT toward more usable products that can easily share information when a provider needs it; and encourage better patient access to their own health records, so that they can be more empowered to make informed health care decisions with their doctors.

 

“As we’ve heard in our hearings, electronic health records can make an incredible—even lifesaving—difference in patients’ treatment and health. So I’m glad we’re able to advance legislation that will help make sure our health IT system works better for patients and providers.

 

As we’ve worked together on ways to advance medical innovation, one of my top priorities has been finding ways to get patients safe, effective, affordable drugs and treatments more quickly—while upholding the highest standards of patient and consumer safety. I know Senators Burr and Franken have worked hard on legislation to help improve clinical research, and to increase clarity on when patients should have access to point-of-care diagnostic tests.

 

“And I’m pleased that today’s markup includes legislation to give the FDA improved tools to help advance treatments for the rarest diseases. Senators Bennet, Burr, Warren, and Hatch have worked closely together on this bill and I’m looking forward to supporting it.

 

“As many of you know, I’ve also been very focused on the tragic outbreaks of infections linked to contaminated medical devices called duodenoscopes in my home state. Similar outbreaks have also occurred in hospitals across the country and internationally. I asked my staff to investigate how the outbreaks could have occurred in the first place, and what Congress could do to protect patients and families going forward.

 

“So I’m pleased to be introducing a bill today that would take some initial steps to improve patient safety, by giving the FDA additional tools to review and ensure the safety of medical devices. And that yearlong investigation showed very clearly that we need to significantly improve our medical device surveillance system to ensure that risks to patients are identified earlier.

 

“And there’s a lot more that needs to be done in addition to improve medical device safety monitoring. And I hope we can work together on some additional, larger measures to ensure that patients can always trust the medical devices used in their treatment are safe and effective. I’m grateful to everyone here for their efforts on these important bills.

 

“As we continue the discussion about how to advance medical innovation, I hope we can see more bipartisan efforts like these. Because I have a lot of confidence that if we continue working together, we can get much more done to support patients and families. We all share the goal of getting safe, affordable, effective new treatments to patients across the country who are waiting for them. I believe strongly than we can’t realize this goal without sustained investments in innovative medical research and efforts to ensure patient and consumer safety.

 

“So as I’ve made clear—the path to a bipartisan deal on medical innovation must include mandatory investments in the NIH and the FDA, and must uphold the gold standard of FDA approval. And I know many of my colleagues agree. I’m very optimistic that if we work together in a truly bipartisan way, we can reach an agreement that would make a real difference for the families and communities we serve. And I’m committed to continuing that effort. Thank you again to everyone who worked hard across the aisle to get us to this point—let’s keep it up. I’m looking forward to our continued efforts together.”