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Cures Act Passes Senate

The US Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act yesterday with a 94 to 5 vote, as GenomeWeb has reported.

The $6.3 billion bill, if signed into law, would give $4.8 billion over 10 years to National Institutes of Health programs, including the Cancer Moonshot effort and the Precision Medicine Initiative. It also would provide $500 million to the Food and Drug Administration, while altering some of the agency's drug and medical device approval policies.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the bill, with its provisions for speedier drug and device approvals, has support from PhRMA and AdvaMed.

The act passed the House of Representatives last week, and President Barack Obama has indicated he would sign it.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) tells the Wall Street Journal that the bill "will help us take advantage of the breathtaking advances in biomedical research and bring those innovations to doctors' offices and patients' medicine cabinets around the country."

The bill isn't without its critics, though. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has lamented that it would downgrade the level of evidence needed to approve drugs.

"Industry will be emboldened by this legislation, and under a deregulation-minded commissioner, will seek further changes in the FDA regulatory scheme," Public Citizen's Michael Carome tells the Journal.