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ICYMI: Sen. Cruz: American Ingenuity Can Fuel a Revolution in Finding Cures and Opening Medical Breakthroughs

Chairs hearing with medical experts on developing cures for America's deadliest diseases

July 14, 2015

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today held a hearing, “Unlocking Cures for America’s Most Deadly Diseases,” in the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. At the hearing, experts from across the field agreed that expanding federal research and making fundamental changes to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could lead to vast improvements in the lives of millions of Americans. The conversation focused on how bold and aggressive reforms that transform the FDA from a risk-averse gatekeeper to a cooperative collaborator with physicians and academics around the country will ultimately cure diseases and in some cases prevent them altogether.

“It is my hope that the Committee will take this testimony and work together in a bipartisan manner to implement these transformational changes so that one day we can look to the American people and stand together to see these horrible diseases cured forever,” Sen. Cruz said after the hearing. “Right now, our nation collectively spends trillions of dollars in treatments and still million Americans continue to suffer. If we devote more resources and time on the front end to incentivize a cure, this could lead to revolutionary impacts for future generations. I think this hearing underscored exactly that potential.”

View the full hearing here. View Sen. Cruz’s opening statement above and see transcript below:

“We’re here today to discuss an issue that is important to every one of us. We’re here today to discuss cures—cures to life threatening diseases, cures to diseases that devastate the lives of millions. We’re here today to discuss what we’re doing well and what we could be doing better to open new frontiers.

“The United States has led the world in path-breaking medical research, and yet there’s far more we could be doing.

“In the year 2015, it’s estimated almost six-hundred-thousand Americans face cancer. Another 700,000 with Alzheimer’s disease are expected to die this year. Nearly 500,000 people in the United States suffer from the effect of Parkinson’s disease. Seven hundred ninety-five thousand suffer strokes each year. Twenty-five point eight million people are afflicted with diabetes. And 95 percent of other rare diseases currently have no recognized treatments or cures, leaving most of the 30 million patients afflicted by them with few or no options.

“The path to achieving medical breakthroughs in cures is law and capital-intensive. Yet often it seems when it comes to medical research that we’re penny-wise and pound-foolish, that we pay billions or trillions on the back end, dealing with the consequences of horrific diseases rather than investing and creating the incentives on the front end to cure these diseases once and for all. 

“The average cost to get a single drug approved by the FDA can cost between one and two billion dollars. In addition, the regulatory burdens and bureaucratic unpredictability slows the ability of innovators to create new cures. Regulatory burdens and uncertainty is also having an effect on private investment. 

“In 2011, the National Venture Capital Association issued a report confirming that U.S. venture capitalists are reducing their investments in biotechnology and medical device companies and are shifting their focus overseas to Europe and Asia primarily due to the persistent regulatory obstacles at the FDA. 

“Despite these daunting and persistent challenges, I continue to believe that incredible American ingenuity still has the power to fuel a revolution and to open medical breakthroughs.

“As former FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenback has stated, ‘We stand on the cusp of a revolution in healthcare. Advances in molecular medicine will allow us to develop powerful new treatments that can cure, or even prevent, diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.’

“As we begin a discussion this morning on how we can unlock cures for America’s most deadly diseases, we’ll take a global look in examining how the American regulatory system compares with the rest of the world, and how incentives can change so that in the coming years we have more and more breakthroughs, rather than less and less bureaucratic inertia.

“Whether it’s increased federal funding through direct medical research, whether it’s using tools, such as prize competitions, whether it’s intellectual property reform, or easing the burdens for approving new drugs and medical devices; all of those are steps that are going to have to be examined closely if we’re going to take major steps toward new cures.

“American poet, Robert Frost, once stated that, ‘Freedom lies in being bold.’ That’s the approach all of us hope that we take. And it is in that spirit that I welcome our panel of distinguished experts and friends to engage in a discussion of creating bold solutions that will enable medical discoveries to cure and prevent deadly diseases.”

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