Today, the U.S. Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act with a 94 – 5 vote, and with it, reauthorization of the Creating Hope Act Pediatric Priority Review Voucher Program. This program creatives incentives for companies to research and develop drugs for children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. It has been very successful to date, generating nearly $1 billion in incentives.
Beyond the Creating Hope Act, the Cures Act authorizes $4.8 billion in additional funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $1.8 billion to fund the National Cancer Moonshot initiative. We are hopeful that childhood cancer will benefit from these funding streams. In addition, the Cures Act includes new compassionate use standards and mental health provisions, which could benefit the pediatric population.
In addition, yesterday the House of Representatives passed the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, which will now go to the Senate for consideration. The STAR Act will advance pediatric cancer research and child-focused cancer treatments and also address survivorship issues for children. The STAR Act contains provisions to enhance pediatric brain tumor research, including improving access to tissue samples. You can help by urging your Senators to support passage in the Senate. Through this map, you can see if your Senator is supporting the STAR Act and find contact information for calling, emailing or tweeting to urge their support.
There remains an incredible amount of work to do, but these are great developments for the fight against childhood cancer.