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House Passes 21st Century Cures Act

On November 30, the House passed, 392-26, H.R. 34, which contains provisions to authorize H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act. The House passed H.R. 6 in July 2015 (see The Source, 7/10/15).

The comprehensive legislation covers funding for medical research and devices, mental health programs, health technology, and drug development. The bill would authorize $4.8 billion for a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Innovation Account, $500 million for a Food and Drug Administration Innovation Account; and $1 billion for expanded opioid treatment programs. The bill also would authorize increased funding levels for NIH through FY2020, as well as funding for maternal depression screening.

Among several other provisions, the bill would require NIH to research and identify opportunities to reduce health disparities among vulnerable populations. Specifically, the legislation would require NIH to prioritize research related to sexual and gender minority populations and implement a task force to identify discrepancies in health research on pregnant and lactating women.

In addition, within 18 months of the bill’s enactment, the director of NIH would be required to submit to Congress a report on efforts to “attract, retain, and develop emerging scientists, including underrepresented individuals in the sciences, such as women and other minorities.”

The Senate is scheduled to consider H.R. 34 on December 5.

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