Senate GOP eyes major reforms for health agencies

Senate Republicans are pledging to reform two of the government’s largest health agencies as part of their effort to fix a medical industry that they say “takes too long and costs too much” to find new cures.

In a wide-ranging report released Thursday, the GOP leaders of the Senate Health Committee announced plans to modernize both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), two agencies they said “every American is personally affected by.”

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The two agencies have major roles in healthcare: The FDA is responsible for regulating all drugs and treatments, while the NIH is responsible for helping to create them.

But Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Overnight Energy: Mark Ruffalo pushes Congress on 'forever chemicals' | Lawmakers spar over actor's testimony | House Dems unveil renewable energy tax plan | Funding for conservation program passes Senate hurdle Schumer: Leadership trying to work out competing surprise medical bill measures MORE (R-Tenn.) and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrMcConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Bipartisan senators urge national security adviser to appoint 5G coordinator GOP divided over impeachment trial strategy MORE (R-N.C.) warn that “regulatory realities” of these agencies, particularly the FDA, often hinders private companies that are trying to create or sell their products.

They said the pace of the FDA is falling behind that of private companies and “in some cases, stifling innovation.”

“This both delays access to new therapies and treatments for U.S patients and drives expertise overseas,” they wrote. Instead, they are calling for greater private-public cooperation and smoother processes to approve companies’ new products.

At stake, the senators said, is the United States’ ability to compete in the field of medicine globally.

“For generations, America has led the world in medical innovation,” they wrote in the report. “But our global edge is slipping.”

The senators’ monthlong effort will complement one that has already been launched by the House Energy and Commerce Committee called 21st Century Cures.