21st Century Cures Act Passed – But Is It A Benefit For The Addicted Or Big Pharma?

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21st Century Cures Act Passed – But Is It A Benefit For The Addicted Or Big Pharma?

Today the Senate gave the final approval on a bill which includes the allocation of $1 billion to address the opioid epidemic.

Supporters of the bill, which passed the Senate 92-to-2, state that the bill it be a dramatic change in approach to the opioid addiction epidemic, which cost more than 28,000 lives in 2014. The bill is set to go to the house next week and is expect to be signed by President Obama.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, legislation chief author:

“This is a historic moment, the first time in decades that Congress has passed comprehensive addiction legislation, and the first time Congress has ever supported long-term addiction recovery.”

Both house and senate collaborated over the weekend on a final version of the 21st Century Cures Act. It’s among the last bills to be address before the new Congress convenes in January. The Act has been years in the making, and is was originally intended as an investment in medical research and development at both the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

21st century cures act | Just Believe Recovery PAAmong provisions included are $1 billion in funds allocated to battle the opioid crisis, which has been affecting almost the entire U.S. Current treatment options and resources are greatly limited for those in need.

Earlier in November, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass) began to advocate for the inclusion on opioid-related funding in the 21st Century Cures Act. Later, they were joined by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in composing a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pushing for action:

“As the end of the year fast approaches, it is past time for Republicans and Democrats to come together to provide emergency funding and increase investments in prevention and treatment services for opioid use, misuse, and use disorders. Until we do, our job is not done and our communities will continue to hurt.”

Detractors

The opioid funding provision has encouraged some Democrats to support the 21st Century Cures Act, but some are vehemently opposed to other provisions, such as the removal of compulsory funding for medical research investments.

21st century cures act | Just Believe Recovery PAIndeed, there are concerns that some of the legislation is giving to much away to pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) put it, they believe the bill is a “political cover for huge giveaways to giant drug companies.”

And yes, Sen. Warren is an opponent of the bill, and on Monday announced that she would not vote for it, despite the fact that she supports a great deal of its content.

Warren:

“Medical breakthroughs come from increasing investments in basic research. Right now, Congress is choking off investments in the NIH. Adjusted for inflation, federal spending on medical research over the past dozen years has been cut by 20%. Those cuts take the legs out from under future medical innovation in America.”

In her statement, she outlined the three “giveaways” to Big Pharma as she identified them in The Act.

In summary, they include:

  1. Warren states that it is currently against the law for drug companies to market drugs not approved by the FDA. She says that The Act will push “treatments without scientific evidence that they work” and that is fraud.
  2. Warren states that The Act will “cover up bribery.” She says that currently, drug companies are required to disclose money spent on doctors and hospitals marketing new drugs, and that the new act “would let drug companies keep secret any splashy junkets or gifts associated with “medical education” and make it harder for enforcement agencies to trace those bribes.”
  3. Warren states that The Act will “hand out dangerous, special deals to Republican campaign contributors.”

You can read or listen to Warren’s entire statement here.

Commentary

One other point of interest: The bill will keep generics off the market longer for drugs treating rare diseases. That sounds like a benefit to no one but Big Pharma. Just saying.

I do think that the bill has its good points and bad points. Money to fight addiction and aid in the recovery of thousands is direly needed to combat the epidemic. However, I am concerned that the pharmaceutical companies will be benefiting from this, as they have been a big part of the problem.

Author’s Note: This article is for informational purposes only. Just Believe Recovery claims no political affiliation, and any opinions presented by the author or inferred either correctly or incorrectly by the reader are not a reflection of this organization’s views.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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