Obama signs 21st Century Cures Act into law

President Barack Obama on Tuesday capped a year of bipartisan negotiations and signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law, according to The Hill.

The Cures Act — which seeks to speed up the approval of new drugs, invests additional money in medical research, supports the fight against the nationwide opioid abuse epidemic and expands mental healthcare — passed both houses of Congress in overwhelmingly bipartisan votes. It passed the House of Representatives 392 to 26 and the Senate 94 to 5.

"We are bringing to reality the possibility of new breakthroughs to some of the biggest health challenges of our time," said President Obama, according to USA Today. "We're tackling cancer, brain disease, substance abuse disorders and more, and none of this would have been possible without bipartisan cooperation from both houses of Congress."

The new $6.3 billion law will provide the NIH with up to $4.8 billion in additional funding over 10 years. Over the same time period, it will also provide $500 million in new funding for the FDA and $1 billion in grants to states to deal with the opioid crisis and improve mental healthcare. It also allocates $1.8 billion in cancer research funding.

"This bill will literally save lives," said Vice President Joe Biden, according to USA Today. Vice President Biden, who heads the White House's "Cancer Moonshot," lost his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015. "Just its mere signing, Mr. President, as you know better than I, gives millions of Americans hope," he said.

Although the 21st Century Cures Act has been backed with bipartisan support, some critics, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., objected to it, arguing the bill played into the hands of the pharmaceutical industry because it lowered regulations on them without addressing the issue of high drug prices, according to The Hill

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