WASHINGTON, February 8 -- Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and HELP committee members Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), today introduced legislation to advance urgently needed research to address the opioid crisis.
The Advancing Cutting-Edge (ACE) Research Act would provide the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with more flexible authority to conduct innovative research to increase scientific understanding and lead to ways to prevent, treat, diagnose and cure disease, including research that is urgently required to respond to public health threats such as the opioid crisis.
Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said: "Dr. Collins has predicted that the development of a new, non-addictive painkiller could be achieved within five years with consistent funding and more flexible authority to conduct the necessary research. This legislation builds on the 21st Century Cures Act by giving the NIH even more flexibility to conduct research to address the opioid crisis, for example by entering research contracts more quickly or partnering with innovative companies. I will be working with my fellow co-sponsors to build support for this legislation in the Senate, and I'm hopeful to begin marking up legislation to help address the opioids crisis this spring."
Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said: "We took much-needed steps in the 21st Century Cures Act and Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to ensure that the National Institutes of Health has the tools and direction to support innovative medical research to combat the opioid crisis. We must build on that bipartisan progress by continuing to fight for the resources needed to help implement existing solutions as well as provide additional flexibility to leverage cutting-edge technology to help innovators and researchers develop new ones."
Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) said: "I'm proud to join my colleagues in introducing The Advancing Cutting-Edge (ACE) Research Act to fight back against the devastating opioid epidemic that is affecting Hoosiers and Americans from all walks of life. This bipartisan legislation will help encourage the innovative research necessary to understanding, treating, and ending our nation's most harmful health threats like the opioid crisis."
Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) said: "The fentanyl, heroin, and opioid crisis continues to devastate communities across New Hampshire and the country, and we know that it stems in large part from the overprescribing of highly addictive painkillers. Non-addictive pain treatment options could help us turn the tide of this epidemic and help save lives by preventing addiction from taking hold in the first place. The bipartisan Advancing Cutting-Edge Research Act will provide the National Institutes of Health with more flexibility to conduct innovative research on alternatives to traditional opioid painkillers, and I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle to move this critical legislation forward."
- According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, there were 63,632 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2016, and 42,249 deaths related to opioids overdoses--115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
- In July 2017, the CDC reported that the amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 was enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks.
- CDC's 2017 Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes highlights that opioid overdose death rates are largely a result of prescription or illicit opioids, including heroin and illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.
- Giving the Director of NIH authority to approve projects using other transaction authority for cutting-edge research will allow NIH to partner with innovative companies more quickly to enhance research efforts in response to the opioid crisis and other public health threats. This authority can also be used to support research that increases the fundamental understanding of diseases or disorders and find ways to prevent, treat, and cure them.