U.S. Senate Passes 21st Century Cures Act to Fund Public Health Programs, Combat Opioid Epidemic & Advance Cancer Research


WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Senate today voted 94-5 to pass a major medical research
and mental health bill, that contains $4.8 billion in federal funding for the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) for programs like the precision medicine
initiative and the cancer research «moonshot» program. It also directs $1 billion
over the next two years to help states combat the abuse of opioids, prescription
drugs, and heroin.

U.S Senator Jack Reed voted for the bill and authored a key provision to improve
mental health services for young people and help prevent the tragedy of youth
suicide. Reed’s Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act reauthorization was included in the
bill to help improve access to counseling for at-risk teens and promote the
development of statewide strategies for suicide early intervention and prevention.
This measure will also provide federal funding for competitive grants to help
states, colleges, universities, and tribes improve mental and behavioral health
counseling services. Overall, the bill authorizes the federal government to award
up to $43 million annually to help states and non-profit institutions prevent youth

Suicide is now the third leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults age
10 to 24 – and results in approximately 4,600 lives lost each year, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, the CDC reports
that 157,000 young adults in this age group are treated for self-inflicted injuries
annually, often as the result of a failed suicide attempt.

«We are losing far too many young people in this country to the tragedy of suicide.
We must do more to end the stigma attached to mental illness and improve the mental
and behavioral health of children and young adults before they hurt themselves or
others. Many young people have a treatable mental illness, but they don’t get the
help they need. This bill provides critical resources for prevention and outreach
programs to help reach at-risk youth before it is too late,» said Reed. «Schools,
colleges, and universities are on the front lines of preventing youth suicide and
this law will help direct additional resources to diagnose and treat our young
people. I am especially pleased that for the first time, this bill will allow
funding to be used for mental health treatment on college campuses, the most
effective way to prevent suicide. I have worked with advocates across the mental
health community for the better part of the last decade on this effort, so I am
pleased to see this come to fruition.»

Last week the House passed the 21st Century Cures Act on a vote of 392-26. The bill
now goes to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

Specifically, the bill will:

* Help bring safe drugs and devices to market more quickly and at less
cost by making needed reforms to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including:
expedited review for breakthrough devices, increased patient involvement in the drug
approval process, a streamlined review process for combination products that are
both a drug and device, and freedom from red tape for software like fitbits or
calorie counting apps.
* Provide $4.8 billion to National Institutes of Health, including: $1.8
billion for Vice President Biden’s «Cancer Moonshot» to speed cancer research; $1.4
billion for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative to drive research into
the genetic, lifestyle and environmental variations of disease; and $1.6 billion for
the BRAIN Initiative to improve our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s and
speed diagnosis and treatment.
* Provide $500 million to the FDA.
* Provide $1 billion in grants to states to address the opioid crisis.
* Address the country’s mental health crisis and help the one out of five
adult Americans suffering from mental illness receive the care they need.
* Improve electronic health records for doctors and their patients.

Bill includes Reed measure to improve mental health services for young people and
help prevent youth suicide