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Senate HELP Advances Seven Bills in Second Innovation Markup

Thursday, March 10, 2016  
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 Senate HELP Advances Seven Bills in Second Innovation Markup  

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held the second in a series of three hearings today on a package of legislation intended to spur medical innovation. The panel advanced seven innovation focused measures, despite a more robust debate than the first hearing that was held on February 9th. Six were passed by a voice vote, and one - the "Advancing Hope Act of 2015" was passed by a roll call vote of 20 to 2.

Chairman Lamar Alexander (TN) acknowledged the contention on the panel over the additional mandatory funding requested by Democrats for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, he expressed optimism about the committee's ability to compromise, stating that the measures could be "the most important legislation passed this year." Ranking Member Patty Murray (WA) was joined by Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) in vocalizing their strong support of increasing mandatory funding for the FDA and NIH. Each member introduced an amendment to S. 1878 (see below) to create a medical device evaluation system and a biomedical innovation fund, respectively. However, each ultimately withdrew their amendments in hopes to find consensus down the line. The bills the Committee passed include:

The Advancing Hope Act of 2015 S. 1878
The Advancing Breakthrough Medical Devices for Patients Act of 2015 S. 1077
The Medical Countermeasures Innovation Act of 2015 S. 2055
The Medical Electronic Data Technology Enhancement for Consumers Health Act S. 1101
The Combination Products Innovation Act of 2015 S. 1767
Patient Focused Impact Assessment Act of 2015 S. 1597
Adding Zika Virus to the FDA Priority Review Voucher Program Act S. 2512 

The third and final HELP Committee hearing on medical innovation is scheduled for Wednesday, April 6, after which Chairman Alexander intends to create a final package for full Senate consideration.