White House offers initial support for medical cures bill

White House offers initial support for medical cures bill
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The Obama administration gave an early endorsement Wednesday for a bipartisan medical cures bill headed to the House this week, while also calling for changes to several GOP-backed proposals.

A statement from the White House said it largely supports the multi-billion dollar legislation, which is designed to speed up drug development.

The administration praised the legislation’s support for Obama’s precision medicine initiative, electronic health records and making it easier and cheaper to run medical trials.  

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“H.R. 6 takes meaningful steps on each of these important issues and includes provisions to pay for the new funding included in the bill,” the statement reads.

But it also laid out concerns with some of the Republican-sponsored provisions in the bill, including reforms to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process.

Officials warned that changes to FDA policy could “undermine regulatory standards by allowing unproven uses of therapies to be marketed to health care payors as though such uses had been proven safe and effective.”

The administration also questioned a provision that would allow drug companies to keep “exclusivity” rights for longer periods of time, which it said could impact prices.

While the White House said it supports the funding boost for the National Institutes of Health and the FDA, it criticized the legislation’s path to do so — which leaves in place the 2011 budget cuts known as the sequestration.

“The administration looks forward to working with the Congress on continuing to improve the bill as it moves forward,” the statement reads.

The bill, which has more than 230 cosponsors in the House, is expected to pass with bipartisan support this week. The Senate is also advancing its own version, which House leaders hope to bring to conference and send to the president’s desk by the end of the year.