Senate passes 21st Century Cures Act, President Obama expected to quickly sign bill into law

By Gene Quinn
December 7, 2016

President Obama promised to sign the Cures Act as soon as it reaches his desk.

In his weekly address President Obama promised to sign the Cures Act as soon as it reaches his desk. Now he gets that chance thanks to overwhelming bipartisan passage.

Earlier today, by a vote of 94 to 5, the United States Senate overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Act. On Wednesday, November 29th, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the 21st Century Cures Act by a vote of 392 to 26.

The Cures Act now goes off to the White House for the President’s signature, where it will receive a warm reception. “I’ll sign it as soon as it reaches my desk, because like a lot of you I’ve lost people I’ve loved deeply to cancer,” President Obama said in his weekly address on December 3, 2016, as he called upon Congress to act swiftly to pass the legislation and send it to the White House.

Voting “NO” for the Cures Act in the Senate were Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Mike Lee (R-UT). Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) did not vote on the bill.

“Right now we have one more chance to put our best minds to work, and in a big way,” President Obama said during his weekly address. “There is a bill in Congress that could help unlock a cure for Alzheimers, and cancer as we know it, and help people seek treatment for opioid addition and get the help that they need. It’s called the 21st Century Cures Act. It is an opportunity to save lives and it is an opportunity we just can’t miss.”

President Obama concluded his weekly address saying: “I believe we should seize every chance we have to find cures as soon as possible. When it is your family hope can’t come soon enough.”

In a statement by the President released after passage of the 21st Century Cures Act in the Senate, the President said:

We are now one step closer to ending cancer as we know it, unlocking cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s, and helping people seeking treatment for opioid addiction finally get the help they need. The bipartisan passage of the 21st Century Cures Act is an example of the progress we can make when people from both parties work together to improve the health of our families, friends and neighbors.

Broadly speaking, the Cures Act will:

  1. Invest $1 billion to address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic;
  2. Invest $1.8 billion into cancer research in order to accelerate discoveries to answers the Vice President Biden’s call for a Cancer Moonshot;
  3. Invest $3 billion to build upon the major biomedical research initiatives known as the BRAIN and Precision Medicine Initiatives, which are tackling diseases like Alzheimer’s and creating new research models to find cures and better target treatments;
  4. Takes important steps to improve mental health; and
  5. Improve the Food and Drug Administration’s drug development process by making sure patients’ voices are part of the decision making process.

More specifically, the 21st Century Cures Act will establish a U.S. Treasury fund called the NIH and Cures Innovation Fund. That fund will receive $1.86 billion per year over four fiscal years up to 2020. Each year, $1.75 billion of those funds would be reserved for biomedical research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including basic, translational and clinical research. At least $500 million of these NIH funds will be used for an Accelerating Advancement Program to partner with national research institutes and national centers to accomplish biomedical research objectives. Of the remaining $1.25 billion or less, at least 35 percent will be allocated to early stage investigators which have earned at most one NIH competitive grant; at least 20 percent allocated for “high-risk, high-reward research”; and at most 10 percent reserved for intramural research. The other $110 million left in the yearly budget will be allocated to a cures development program and will fund drug manufacturing studies, health software and obtaining data on disease history.

“The 21st Century Cures Act, passed by the Senate today with overwhelming bipartisan support, is an important victory for medical innovation that will help expedite the development of the next generation of breakthrough medicines to save lives and reduce suffering for millions of patients, while helping to lower other healthcare costs,” said James C. Greenwood, who serves as the President and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).

UPDATED Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 at 5:50pm ET to include reference to Senators who voted “NO” and did not vote.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and founder of IPWatchdog.com. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and an attorney with Widerman Malek. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 6 Comments comments.

  1. step back December 8, 2016 10:46 am

    The “Moonshot” BS simply infuriates me.

    It’s part of that delusional meme that says, ‘Why if we could go to the moon (and Yes , “we” did), then we can do anything.

    It’s part of that psyche of thinking, ‘Government is holding back innovation and if only we throw money at it and pull back all the regulations, that will unleash the Cheeto haired hounds of ingenuity and make our country great again’

    True invention and innovation happens only when individual people, a.k.a. “inventors” devote many years of their lives, hard work, the tears of many failures, the joy of a 1% aha moment and the sweat of 99% more work to get to the mountain top.

    And who awaits them at the mountain top?

    Why yes, it’s the injustice league.

    With her cape flowing flawlessly in the wind and a big G stamped on it stands the wonder woman of the PTO (name withheld). Behind her in an audacious suite of armor stands President man. Next to him, holding a green lantern and scanning the moonbeams for hidden treasure is his vice. Welcome inventors. We are your saviors. Just take a ticket and wait on line. We merely need to check you out for bed bugs and the stench of ineligible subject matter.

  2. Pat N. Trole December 9, 2016 10:01 am

    Is there a detailed break-down of exactly how all of the money is being allocated? It doesn’t look like final decisions have been made for the Cancer Moonshot. The comment above that “true innovation…mountain top” is completely false. University research that was funded by the government has produced a plethora of life-changing innovation over the past 40 years. Throwing money at universities and private industry is exactly what the government needs to do, as long as it steps away after doing that, like it did it for many years after Bayh-Dole was passed. While I agree that the “stench of ineligible subject matter” remains strong, that is a completely separate issue from the government funding these initiatives. Perhaps I missed something when I read over the bill briefly, but the government doesn’t retain any additional rights other than those that they normally retain under funded research, does it? We need more government funding as long as they don’t interfere with the development and commercialization.

  3. step back December 9, 2016 1:24 pm

    I never said that government funding is bad.

    Of course the government should fund R&D not only in the health sciences but in other scientific arts as well.

    I am trying to make an entirely different point. About the government creating false hopes and expectations within our culture.

    The notion of a “Moonshot” program to cure cancer once and for all is absurd, unrealistic, political bubble gum garble and creates in both the lay public and even among our Supreme Court Justices the false understanding that science is easy, that progress is inevitable.

    Just find a 2nd year engineering student at your local SV coffee shop. Just pluck that banana off the DNA tree. Solvency you see? It’s nothing but child’s play. A “fundamental” building block as all clearly understand. There lies the problem. That everything is obvious, abstract and not deserving of credit.

    https://patentu.blogspot.com/2016/09/and-cancer-yes-we-beat-you-in-our.html

  4. Dan December 9, 2016 11:26 pm

    Read this book for starters:

    The Truth About the Drug Companies
    By Marcia Angell, M.D.

    http://www.wanttoknow.info/truthaboutdrugcompanies

    Then read:
    Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care by by Martin Makary M.D.

    Big Pharma will NEVER allow any CURE for any disease. It’s never going to happen. Unless you take Big Pharma’s power away. Yea right as if that’s ever going to happen.

  5. Wayne Carpenter December 11, 2016 12:43 am

    I am agree with Dan basically in that there are significant issues with the healthcare system. It is accomplished by falsifying or covering up the truth, , removing people from certain positions who tell the truth, and so on. There are ways to prevent and cure diseases that the U.S. government likes to hush up.

    A researcher said that the government knew that smoking was bad for a person’s health but it wasn’t until January 1, 1966 that Congress passed a law stating that a warning had to be put on the packs of cigarettes! Why the long delay? Money, politics, and or influential people!

    Does the government really care about your health? If they did, would there be so many toxins allowed in out food, water, and air? The government allows fracking in which companies add chemicals to water in then inject it into the earth. What about the “pollution” of electromagnetic fields? Researchers are finding out that, yes, cell phones, Wi-Fi smart meters, and other non ionizing radiation does affect our cell’s operation negatively. But who wants to or can go against the wireless manufacturers to say that they negatively impact our health?

    A doctor reveals research results and exposes cover ups here concerning high frequency electromagnetic fields: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwyDCHf5iCY

    If all of the toxic chemicals, and excessive sugar were removed from our foods, toxic chemicals not put in our water, prescription drugs with serious negative health effects were banned, and somehow excessive electromagnetic fields eliminated, there is NO doubt that the instances of cancer and other diseases would decline.

    Dr. Mercola, Dr. Murray, and Dr. Sinatra’s websites have some good information for those who prefer a drugless lifestyle, even into old age.

  6. step back December 14, 2016 7:54 pm

    Hi Wayne @5

    About all those cancer causing “radiations”, a little knowledge is dangerous.

    “Radiation” includes the visible waveband light from screen on your smartphone and the sunlight that strikes you when you step outside.

    Not all radiation is “ionizing”.
    When they talk about ionizing radiation they are talking gamma particles from radioactively decaying isotopes and the like.

    Can holding a cell phone too close to your head induce brain cancer?
    The jury is still out on that one but so far there is no scientifically consistent evidence of a mechanism (e.g. localized heating) that results in that outcome.

    Biomedical technology is extremely complex.
    My beef with Obama, Biden and their “Moonshot” is that they don’t appreciate the complexities. As far as I understand, Biden wants to throw a bunch of scientists who normally don’t get together into one room and shout triumphantly, Let the magic happen!

    This is no different than when our clueless Supreme Court justices (SCOTUS) point to King Tut’s abacus man or the 2nd year engineering student at the coffee house and shout triumphantly, Let the magic happen!