- The Senate health committee’s medical innovation bill could reach the Senate floor as early as next week, The Hill reported.
- Still up in the air is a pay-for mechanism for funding medical research at the National Institutes of Health. Democrats won’t support the measure without the mandatory funding.
- Months behind schedule, the legislation is a companion to the House’s 21st Century Cures Act.
The House voted overwhelmingly in July to pass its FDA reform bill, which would speed up approvals of new drugs and devices and increase research funding.
“The House has passed it with a big vote, the president’s interested in it, and we’re nearly through with our work, so let’s put it this way: I think it’s likely to be ready for the floor by the end of the week, or shortly thereafter,” Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told The Hill.
He said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would decide if it goes to the floor.
The HELP Committee is scheduled to vote today on some smaller bipartisan bills aimed at getting new treatments out the FDA door and into clinical use more quickly, according to Morning Consult.
However, without agreement on NIH funding, the Senate’s cures bill can’t proceed. The House bill included $8.75 billion for NIH, but much of the House-passed offsets were consumed in 2015 transportation bill. Alexander wants the Senate version’s offsets to come from other healthcare spending.
When Democrats wouldn’t agree on a broader healthcare reform package, like that approved by the House, Alexander settled on a piecemeal approach to the medical innovation initiative.