NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Health Care Legacy Moonshot for Obama

September 29, 2016

NCPA Senior Fellow John R. Graham writes in Forbes:

President Obama has an opportunity to win a positive legacy in care. Although his attempt at payment reform, Obamacare, has failed in public opinion, he is also encouraging important initiatives in medical innovation. The Cancer Moonshot and Precision Medicine Initiative represent investments in innovation that can bring big payoffs. However, they will not succeed fully unless the Food and Drug Administration allows patients access to new therapies. Legislation modernizing the FDA, the 21st Century Cures Act, is being fumbled inches away from the Congressional end zone. Presidential leadership is needed.

21st Century Cures would also allow real-world data to be used to support the FDA's approval of new indications for medicines already in use. This is important because manufacturers are not allowed to promote their medicines for benefits not already approved by the FDA. Even though such "off-label" communications are banned, doctors are free to prescribe medicines for off-label use. (Indeed, many states require insurers to reimburse for off-label prescriptions.)

The bill contains a number of other provisions that will improve the FDA\'s performance with respect to allowing patients access to medical innovation. How much would all this cost, you ask? Virtually nothing! Only $1.4 billion over 10 years. And it is more than paid for with some spending cuts and increased revenue. Some comes from strange places, like the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. However, the dollar figures are so small any changes to tidy up the funding sources should be easy to find.

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