Bay Ridge

Donovan lauds passage of 21st Century Cures Act

December 6, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The 21st Century Cures Act will provide funding to help the nation’s fight against opioid drug addiction, according to U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

Rep. says bill funds drug treatment, Alzheimer’s research

Sweeping legislation passed by both houses of Congress will pump $5.8 billion into fighting opioid drug addiction and other life-threatening health issues, according to U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, who called that package a “landmark” bill.

Donovan (R-C-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island) was among the House members voting in favor of the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill that authorizes $1 billion in grants to be distributed to states for the treatment, education and enforcement of opioid addiction. The bill passed by an overwhelming margin, 392-26.

The legislation also provides $4.8 billion for the National Institutes of Health to conduct research into cures for deadly diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, Donovan said.

The legislation was approved by the Senate by a vote of 85-13 on Dec. 5 and has been sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

“Congress can’t solve the addiction crisis from Washington, but we can equip the experts on the ground with the tools they need to succeed,” Donovan said in a statement.

More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than any other year on record, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which stated that many of the overdoses cases were related to opioids, like prescription painkillers and heroin.

Since 1999, the number of opioid-related overdoses has quadrupled, the CDC found.

Between 2000 and 2014, 500,000 people died of drug overdoses.

The second part of the 21st Century Cures Act is also important, Donovan said.

“Beyond the opioid funding, this landmark legislation will bring our country’s drug approval process into the 21st century and make a down payment on finding cures for the diseases that plague humanity,” Donovan said.

The 21st Century Cures Act increases funding for medical research to the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control; offers new incentives for developing treatments for diseases; and streamlines research and clinical trial procedures.

Donovan said the portion of the legislation dealing with medical research is deeply personal to him.  The lawmaker’s mother, Katherine Donovan, who suffered from dementia, died in March.

“After losing my mother, this legislation is personal to me and to the millions of Americans who’ve watched a loved one suffer from disease,” he said. “This is a shift in the country’s medical research policies that will hopefully lead to exciting breakthroughs and quicker access to the latest treatments.”

Vice President Joe Biden presided over the Senate vote on Monday. The Senate also voted to rename National Institutes of Health portion of the bill after his late son, Beau Biden, who died of cancer in 2015. In his final State of the Union Address earlier this year, President Obama asked Biden to head up an effort to work with health care providers and researchers to find a cure for cancer. The effort is called the White House Cancer Moonshot.

The 21st Century Cures Act included input from patients, researchers and healthcare experts, according to Donovan, who said the new legislation is a combination of two bills that had been previously passed by the House.