Public Participation in Drafting of the 21st Century Cures Act image

The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, July 14, 2017
Thomas J. Hwang, Rachel E. Sachs (Academic Fellow Alumna), Aaron S. Kesselheim


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The 21st Century Cures Act is a major act of legislation that contains numerous changes to drug and device regulation. The House of Representatives passed the Act after considerable interest group lobbying, but the bill and the key changes made during its drafting remain controversial. Using publicly disclosed records of written comments on the bill, we reviewed the key areas of lobbying activity and the compromises made in the final text. We focused on legislative provisions relating to management of the National Institutes of Health, incentives for medical product development, and approval standards for new drugs and devices. By the end of the first comment period, the Committee received 118 comments. Most respondents were patient organizations, professional societies, and pharmaceutical and device companies. Overall, the majority of public comments were positive, although public health and consumer organizations were underrepresented in the number of submitted comments. As the legislative process continued, the draft bill underwent several changes relating to NIH funding, market exclusivity provisions, and scrutiny of regulatory evidentiary standards. Understanding the key statutory provisions and how they have evolved could help patients, researchers, and advocates make more informed comments on the bill and future health care legislation.

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biotechnology fda health law policy pharmaceuticals rachel sachs regulation