Chairman Fred Upton Kicks Off Debate on #CuresNow with Powerful Speech

December 1, 2016

Below is the speech, as prepared, by Chairman Fred Upton for the #CuresNow movement.

There is not a single person in this chamber or watching at home today who has not been touched by disease in some way. We have all said too many early good-byes to people we hold dear. Families robbed of a parent that will never get to see their child’s milestones. A child born without the gift of a future. Every day, countless folks living vibrant lives are delivered unexpected diagnoses. It’s a cycle that repeats itself over and over in every community. Life changes in an instant – and hope seems just out of reach. Whether it be Alzheimer’s, Lupus, MS, cancer…you name it.

No matter where you’re from – one thing that binds us all together is we all want more time with loved ones. That’s why we’re here today – because the clock is ticking for patients and their families.

Which brings us to 21st Century Cures. This bipartisan legislation will ensure our health system can keep pace with incredible advances in science and technology. In “Cures” – we’ve got a medical innovation game-changer that will deliver hope to patients across America.

We have been here before. In July 2015, after a series of roundtables, hearings, whitepapers, and public feedback, the House overwhelmingly voted in support of 21st Century Cures.

Sure, we have encountered a number of detours and obstacles along this path to cures, but we have taken great inspiration in those patients who have partnered in this effort to persevere, stay positive, and continue forward to get the job done. Just like my two little Michigan angels – Brooke and Brielle – who are battling SMA, do every day. Each day they muster incredible strength and courage, conquering challenges that most folks will never encounter in a lifetime.

So….three years ago we had an idea. That we could do better. We needed to do something and transform our health and research system to effectively fight disease in the 21st century. Finding cures and boosting research and innovation was absent from any policy to-do list. People did not seem to care that the gap between biomedical innovation and our regulatory process was widening. Or that of the 10,000 known diseases – 7,000 of which are rare – there are treatments for only 500. We needed to change the conversation and restore urgency. And working together, we have.

But first, we listened. To more than just Brooke and Brielle. But to the Barb’s and Becky’s and Lisa’s. Geno, the Don’s, the Betsy’s….Little Max. Virtually everyone. Science and biomedical innovation have made incredible strides over the last two decades. Mapping the human genome, new biomarkers, and personal health care apps have all offered new opportunities to find new treatments and cures.

But the way the FDA and NIH apply these new innovations to our regulatory process has lagged behind. These agencies – and the rules and regulations they produce affecting the discovery, development, and delivery of life saving drugs and devices – also desperately need modernization and innovation. They need a game-changer. And we have it.

This legislation breaks down regulatory barriers and expedites the approvals for drugs and devices coupled with billions for more research.

The former head of The National Cancer Institute and FDA, Andy Von Eschenbach, has called this “the most transformational biomedical legislation in the past 40 years.” He’s right.

But this package is not just about Cures. It also achieves several additional topline priorities for the Energy and Commerce Committee, including valuable resources to fight the opioid epidemic, and delivering landmark mental health reforms spearheaded by Dr.  Tim Murphy to help families in crisis and treat mental illness rather than incarceration. This is without a doubt the most important and impactful bill we will enact this Congress.

Patients aren’t interested in debating the timelines, the failure rates, the size and the costs of conducting clinical trials are at all-time highs. They just know that despite the promise of scientific breakthroughs, they can’t get the therapy that might save their life. That is why we need 21st Century Cures.

I want to give a special thanks for my many partners….Especially Diana DeGette. Not to mention Joe Pitts, Frank Pallone, Tim Murphy, Lamar Alexander….Leadership on both sides of the aisle in both chambers. My simply brilliant committee and personal office teams lead by Gary Andres and Joan Hillebrands, Health Counsel Paul Edattel. And of course my wife Amey.

We are on the cusp of something special. A once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform how we treat disease. With today’s vote, we are taking a giant leap on the Path to Cures. Working together, we will deliver Cures Now.

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