Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Cures Act makes bolder science a reality

June 5, 2015
Op-Ed

By Reps. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and Gene Green (D-Texas)

Over a year ago, the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched the 21st Century Cures Initiative, a high-minded legislative effort that asked how we, as nation, can accelerate the pace of medical innovation and get cures to patients who need them.

The early stage of this effort featured roundtables held across the country where medical researchers and scientific experts gathered with policy makers to discuss the current environment and how we can do better.

Houston is home to world-class medical institutions, and we are proud to have so many of them represented throughout the Cures initiative. We hosted one of these roundtables at the Texas Medical Center last October. It was remarkable to hear the best and the brightest minds from our premier research institutions come together and unite behind this effort. 

Our distinguished scientists and the institutions they represent are leading the world in medical advancements, innovation, and scientific breakthroughs. From mapping the human genome, to the rise of personalized medicines; we have seen breakthroughs that are changing the face of medical research. 

But while health research is advancing, the medical product approval apparatus is in many ways, the relic of another era. At the same time, federal funding for medical research has declined more than 24 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2003. Years of cuts and stagnant budgets for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) threaten our station as the global leader in scientific research and advancement. We have dedicated scientists and bold leaders at agencies like the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but when our laws and investments don’t keep pace with innovation, we all lose.

To reverse course of flagging investments and inflexible, sometimes outdated regulations, the 21stCentury Cures Act was crafted. The landmark legislation takes a forward-looking, patient-centered approach to health care. It introduces reforms to remove hurdles between scientific advancements and the development and regulation of medical products. Provisions of the bill give FDA new tools to utilize today’s best science and leverage key resources in the review process. It includes $10 billion in new mandatory funding for the NIH. This infusion of funding is long overdue, and reflects the broad consensus that the health of our country depends on robust investment in medical research. 

The 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6) was passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 21, by a vote of 51-0. The unanimous vote reflects the bipartisan understanding that, while we have made great progress, we can and must do better and use innovative strategies to fight and treat disease. We have an obligation to patients and families across America who are in need of hope and of cures.  

The 21st Century Cures Act will be headed to the House floor in the coming weeks, and we look forward to its swift passage. 

Representatives Gene Green (D-TX-29) and Pete Olson (R-TX-22) are longstanding members of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee where the Cures initiative originated. Rep. Green is the Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee and Rep.  Olson is Vice Chair for the Energy and Power Subcommittee for the 114th Congress.

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