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House Votes in Favor of Bill Boosting NIH Funding

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The US House of Representatives today overwhelmingly voted in favor of a bill that would increase funding to the National Institutes of Health by about $10 billion, help speed the development of new drugs, and advance precision medicine initiatives.

Called the 21st Century Cures Act, the bill was passed by a vote of 344 to 77. It was introduced by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. and has 230 co-sponsors.

The bill would boost NIH funding by about $10 billion over a five-year period beginning in fiscal 2016 when the agency would receive $31.81 billion under the bill, compared to the $31.3 billion proposed by President Obama in his budget request.

Additionally, the legislation would create an NIH Innovation Fund, funded at $2 billion each year for FY 2016 through FY 2020 for basic, translational, and clinical research. It also seeks to broadly define the roles of the US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary and the US Food and Drug Administration to advance precision medicine. The secretary would be required to provide and update guidance and information to assist those practicing precision medicine.

The bill will next go to the US Senate and, if passed there, to President Barack Obama for approval. While the White House has said it is committed to increase support of biomedical research, earlier this week it released a statement expressing concern about increasing NIH funding without addressing budget sequestration.

The statement also warns that the new responsibilities for FDA in the 21st Century Cures Act would exceed the resources allocated to the agency, preventing it from fully implementing programs outlined in the bill.

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