President Obama’s signing of the 21st Century Cures Act on Dec. 13 is expected to bring real change to those living with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The legislation will lead to better research and clinical trials. It also puts increased weight on the role patients play in developing treatments for their conditions.
“Patients are in a unique position to provide essential insights about what it is like to live with and fight their disease,” Robert M. Califf, MD, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a blog about the act.
As overwhelming majority of both the House and Senate, which have often opposed the Obama administration’s legislation, voted for the Cures Act.
In a speech on the House floor, Congressman Greg Walden, an enthusiast supporter of the act from Oregon’s 2nd District, said the Cures legislation will improve Americans’ physical and mental health.
“This will make a difference in real people’s lives back home in our communities, and I’ve heard from those people like Carol Fulkerson in Bend (Oregon) who has MS,” Walden said. “She’s ecstatic about this. She says it makes it possible to find a cure to MS. Can you imagine what that means in a person’s life?”
Fulkerson is active in Oregon’s chapter of the National MS Society.
The National MS Society said in a news release that the Cures Act will address some of its top priorities. The legislation’s Neuro Data Initiative, for example, will create a data collection system to help track neurological diseases.
The Cures Act gives the National Institutes of Health (NIH) $4.8 billion in new funding for disease research and the FDA an additional $500 million to speed treatments to patients.
In addition, the act includes a number of provisions to improve the design and efficiency of clinical trials. For instance, several trials may share a control group, which would reduce the number of patients needed and allow resources to be freed up for other use.
The law insures MS patients’ and others’ access to complex-rehabilitation-technology wheelchair accessories. The accessories, which include tilt-and-recline systems and specialized seat cushions, help patients maintain their independence.
“The passage of the 21st Century Cures Act will accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of life-changing treatments and improve the day-to-day lives of people with multiple sclerosis,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and CEO of the National MS Society.
“I applaud Congress for creating a pathway for promising innovation through the establishment of a data collection system for neurological diseases; providing new funding for the NIH and the FDA; protecting access to CRT wheelchair accessories and more,” she said. “This groundbreaking legislation truly brings us one step closer to ending MS.”