Realizing the promise of science with 21st Century Cures


Scientific research is advancing the frontiers of knowledge with discoveries that will ultimately lead to the eradication of life-threatening conditions. Translating discoveries into safe and effective treatments for patients, however, requires robust investments, collaboration and the support of a modernized regulatory system. “When our laws don’t keep pace with innovation, we all lose,” said Representative Fred Upton (R-MI-06), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Upton and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO-01) are spearheading the 21st Century Cures Act which aims to accelerate the pace of medical innovation from discovery, development to delivery.

During the upcoming BIO International Convention in Philadelphia, experts will discuss the 21st Century Cures Act and its European counterpart, the Innovative Medicines Initiative at the super session “Accelerating Innovation in the 21st Century” on June 17. Moderator Steve Usdin, senior editor of Washington BioCentury, will join panelists Dr. Bruno Flamion, professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at University of Namur, Belgium; Paul Hudson, president of AstraZeneca US and executive vice president of North America AstraZeneca; and Richard Peters, head of Global Rare Disease Division at Genzyme, a Sanofi company. The group will have a robust policy discussion on challenges and opportunities to better ensure the promise of science is realized. 

“The ability to take a vast array of new understandings about the molecular basis of disease and really push forward with new drugs and devices has never been more promising than they are now, but we’re cutting back the fuel for the engine,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in reference to federal investments in medical research over the past decade. The NIH lost 25 percent of its purchasing power since 2003 as a result of flat funding and sequestration, the federal automatic spending cuts.

Incentives for the development and adoption of new treatments and maintaining the affordability of healthcare will be the focus of a panel titled “Paying for the 21st Century Cure” on June 16 with experts from the biotech and insurance industry. What is the appropriate role of government?  What are some of the models that address out-of-pocket costs for families? The session will be moderated by Dan Mendelson, chief executive officer and founder of Avalere Health LLC, and include speakers Dan Durham, executive vice president of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Americas Health Insurance Plans; Scott Gottlieb, resident fellow, American Enterprise Institute; and Laurel Todd, managing director, Reimbursement & Health Policy, Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The 21st Century Cures Act, approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 21, includes a $10 billion Innovation Fund for the NIH to help fund precision medicine, young investigators and other research programs. The measure, which provides $550 million over the next five years for the Food and Drug Administration, would streamline the approval process for new drugs, incorporate the patient perspective in drug development, and modernize clinical trials.

For more information about the BIO International Convention, visit

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Luck shouldn't play a role in why I'm alive.
Laurie MacCaskill, a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor