On Tuesday, May 12th, PhRMA and The Hill convened a symposium with legislators and leading health care experts on “Next Generation Cures.” Speakers and panelists focused on how all health care stakeholders can work together to create a policy and regulatory environment conductive to encouraging innovation and investment in the research and development needed for new therapies and cures for patients.
Senator Richard Burr kicked off the event by discussing the state of health care in America and what Congress can do to improve quality of care and access to medicines for patients. “We have to make sure there’s a pathway that’s understandable, not only through approval but reimbursement,” said Sen. Burr. Addressing 21st century breakthroughs, Sen. Burr stated that focusing on innovation is imperative to encourage research for new medicines, enabling us to reach the next level of treatments and cures. Giving President Obama credit for launching a new precision medicine initiative, Sen. Burr reiterated that this is a significant opportunity to get legislation right and help increase access to clinical trials and new treatments for patients.
Senator Bill Cassidy, a physician, praised biopharmaceutical research advances for resulting in tremendous progress and promise in the fight against certain diseases. He also added that challenges still exist for many patients fighting debilitating and rare diseases. Sen. Cassidy cautioned against moving a partisan bill and encouraged working on getting legislators on both sides of the aisle behind a bill that would make the pathways to cures “more efficient, more accountable and more effective” so that medicines can get to patients more quickly.
PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani provided the biopharmaceutical industry perspective. One of PhRMA’s most important roles is a convener of perspectives to get ideas together and improve outcomes, said Castellani. Getting more treatments and potential cures through the pipeline is crucial in order to see more outcomes like Matt Ellefson’s. Through collaboration and initiatives like the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP), the government and industry can work toward a common goal of getting new medicines to more patients faster. More than 500 new medicines have been approved by the FDA since 2000 and more than 7,000 are in the pipeline globally. But with the rates of certain debilitating diseases increasing, more work must be done to help patients lead longer, healthier lives. “The whole health care ecosystem has to work together for real and meaningful change to happen,” said Castellani.
A panel of health experts followed Castellani to offer diverse perspectives about challenges in fighting diseases and how to increase access to treatments. Jeff Allen from Friends of Cancer Research highlighted the necessity for increasing access to more clinical trials for patients while the Food and Drug Administration’s Theresa Mullin emphasized the importance of capturing disease data and patient experiences in development programs to measure progress.
Margaret Anderson of FasterCures added that with the robust science going on in the industry, as well as meaningful patient information from advocacy groups, collaboration will be essential between all stakeholders. Marc Boutin, CEO of the National Health Council, highlighted potential opportunities for improvements in the 21st century cures legislation to enhance the discovery of cures and innovative therapies.
If you missed the conversation, check out the recap on social media on Storify or watch the video below. Stay involved in the conversation by using #NextGenCures and get updates on the latest in innovation by visiting From Hope to Cures.
Tina Stow Tina Stow previously served as Vice President of Communications at PhRMA. Prior to joining PhRMA in 2014, she spent more than a dozen years in corporate and agency communications and public affairs roles. A D.C. transplant via North Carolina and Georgia, Tina likes to travel, make the rounds to D.C.’s new restaurants, dote on her rescue labradoodle (Chloe), and complain about winter.