House Moves Forward on Medical Cures Bill

A package of new policies aimed at getting cutting-edge medical cures to Americans more quickly is moving forward, with House lawmakers releasing the latest iteration last week.

In an effort to gain bipartisan support, Republicans slashed the draft in half from an earlier version, removing one particularly controversial section giving drug developers more time to exclusively market their products and inserting more funding for the National Institutes of Health — one of Democrats’ key demands.

Lawmakers still have some major obstacles to overcome, especially when it comes to paying for the legislation. But their focus on removing barriers to the speedy discovery, development and approval of new medical devices and drugs is emerging as one of the chief bipartisan legislative efforts in Congress.

The push is being led by Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., who have devoted nine hearings to the topic over the last year. Upton has said he wants to send a final version to President Obama by the end of the year.