Four Ways to Participate Remotely in Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill

If you are not able to join us and advocates from across the country at Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill on February 27th through March 2nd, you can still make your voice heard on Capitol Hill and participate in some of the programming.

Here are four ways you can participate remotely:

  1. Watch the livestream of Rare Disease Day at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Monday, February 27th. The agenda and link to register are available on the NIH website. Speakers include representatives from Global Genes, EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases and FasterCures as well as leaders from NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you are on social media, use the hashtag #RDDNIH to be part of the conversation.
  2. Watch the livestream of the Legislative Conference on Tuesday, February 28th, to learn what to expect from the new Congress and Trump Administration, how to build an effective relationship with Members of Congress and staff, and about key legislation for the rare disease community. The draft agenda, link to register for the free livestream and legislative issue briefs are available here. If you are on social media, use the hashtag #RareDC2017 to quote speakers, comment and ask questions.
  3. Call your Members of Congress on Lobby Day on Wednesday, March 1st. The one-page background papers for each of the key legislative issues discussed at the Legislative Conference are available here. You can review them and decide which you might want to ask your Members of Congress to support. You can find contact information for your elected officials here.
  4. Email your Members of Congress on Lobby Day on Wednesday, March 1st. Chose the current RDLA action alerts you support. We make it easy for you to send an email to your legislators. You can ask them to join the bipartisan Rare Disease Congressional Caucus, which hosts quarterly briefings on Capitol Hill to raise awareness and educate Members and staff.

Please join us to help educate the new Congress and shape healthcare policy to better meet the needs of the rare disease community!

Sign up to receive news from Rare Disease Legislative Advocates to ensure that you don’t miss any updates on Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Registration Now Open for Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill

Join fellow rare disease patients, caregivers and other advocates from across the country at Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill from February 27th through March 2nd, 2017. This is an opportunity for YOU to help educate the new Congress and shape healthcare policy to better meet the needs of the rare disease community.

All of the events are free for rare disease advocates, but advance registration is required for each.

Monday, February 27th, 8:30am-4pm: Rare Disease Day at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
You can attend in-person or watch via livecast, and registration is available on the NIH website.

Monday, February 27th, 5:30-9:30pm: Cocktail Reception and Rare Disease Documentary Screening presented by Vertex featuring Up for Air at the Naval Heritage Center
Registration is available HERE.

Tuesday, February 28th, 9am-5pm: Legislative Conference presented by Horizon Pharma at FHI 360. Registration closed on February 12th.

Wednesday, March 1st, 7:30-8:30am: Lobby Day Breakfast at Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. Registration is now closed.

Wednesday, March 1st, 9am-5pm: Lobby Day Meetings with Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Registration closed on February 12th.

Wednesday, March 1st, 5-7pm: Rare Artist Reception at the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building
Registration is available HERE.

Thursday, March 2nd, 12-1:30pm: Rare Disease Congressional Caucus Briefing in Room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building
Registration is available HERE.

For more information on Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill including the introductory webinar held last month and a link to register for the next webinar on February 8th, please visit http://rareadvocates.org/rdw/.

Sign up to receive news from Rare Disease Legislative Advocates to ensure that you don’t miss any updates on Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

A Deep Dive on 21st Century Cures

We previously highlighted the provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act of greatest interest to the rare disease community, but there were many more in the 312 page legislation.

The FDA Law Blog, the official blog of the law firm of Hyman, Phelps & McNamara P.C., recently took a closer look at several sections of the Act.  For analysis of the provisions related to medicine, click HERE (part 1) and HERE (part 2). Analysis of the provisions related to medical devices can be found HERE and analysis of drug-device combination products (such as a surgical mesh with an antibiotic coating) can be found HERE.

We will share any analysis of the potential impact of the 21st Century Cures Act as we find it.

Video from Rare Disease Congressional Caucus Briefing on PDUFA Now Available

The final Rare Disease Congressional Caucus briefing of 2016 focused on the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), the agreement between the biopharmaceutical industry and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding user fees paid by industry to supplement federal funding for human drug review.

Congress will need to reauthorize PDUFA before the current agreement expires at the end of September 2017, which will be an opportunity to include provisions to encourage the development and streamline the review of rare disease treatments.

Watch the videos to learn more from representatives from debra of America, National Health Council, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Genentech and office of U.S. Representative Leonard Lance (NJ).

http://rareadvocates.org/driving-innovation-for-lifesaving-therapies-through-pdufa-reauthorization-in-2017/

Webinar Provides Overview of Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill 2017

 

Rare Disease Legislative Advocates recently hosted a webinar which provided an overview of Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill, to be held February 27th through March 2nd, 2017 in Washington, DC.  The week of events brings together rare disease community members from across the country to be educated on federal legislative issues, meet other advocates, and share their unique stories with legislators. There will be new Members of the House and Senate next year, and it is critical for them to meet members of their communities affected by rare disease.

All of the events are free for patient advocates, and registration will open on January 4th.

Not Able to Attend? Submit Your Unique Perspective to be Hand-Delivered to Congress

We want every Member of Congress to hear from constituents affected by rare disease, and you can make your voice heard even if you can’t join us in person. Please share your unique perspective and let your legislators know what issues matter most to you by filling out our online form by February 12th so that we can hand-deliver it on Lobby Day.

Check the Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill webpage for more information and updates.

Travel Stipends for Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill Increased!

The EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases will provide travel stipends to enable advocates from across the country to participate in Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill, to be held February 27th through March 2nd, 2017.

Thanks to a generous donation to our Rare Giving program by Horizon Pharma, we are able to increase the amount offered to recipients! Advocates in Maryland and Virginia are eligible to receive $400 stipends, while advocates in other states in the continental U.S. are eligible to receive $800. Advocates in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are eligible to receive $1,000 stipends.

In order to receive a stipend, advocates must attend the Legislative Conference and Lobby Day. Applications are available online through December 18th. All applicants will be notified whether they will receive a stipend or are on the waitlist on January 3rd.

We hosted a webinar earlier this month to provide an overview of the events during Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill, highlight travel options to Washington, DC and answer questions.  You can find the webinar recording and schedule of events online.

We hope you will plan to join us to educate the new Congress and help shape healthcare policy to better meet the needs of the rare disease community. You can sign up to receive news from Rare Disease Legislative Advocates to ensure that you don’t miss any updates on Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you to

Delivering #CuresNow: Speaker Ryan Signs Bipartisan Game-Changing Medical Innovation Bill

Dec 8, 2016
Press Release
Bill Officially Heads to The White House to be Signed into Law

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the Senate’s passage of the 21st Century Cures Act on Wednesday by a vote of 94 to 5, the bill was sent today to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) before moving to the White House for the president’s signature. The House passed the game-changing medical innovation bill on November 30, by a vote of 392 to 26. Both Speaker Ryan and Senate Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch (R-UT) officially signed the bill at this morning’s Enrollment Ceremony.


With Speaker Ryan’s signature, the bill now heads to the president’s desk.

“This effort has always been about the patients, and I’m so glad that we could have our friend, all-star Cures advocate Max with us today. Not letting rare disease hold him back, this pint-sized dynamo has been with us every step of the way on the #Path2Cures,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “We look forward to seeing President Obama make #CuresNow law next week. As Max said today, ‘Cures is more than hope, it’s action.’ Next stop, the White House!”

For more information on the 21st Century Cures Act, click HERE.

Visit C-SPAN to view the signing ceremony.

’Cures’ Research Package Draws Strong Bipartisan Vote

Originally published in Roll Call:

The House Wednesday night approved, 392-26, a sweeping biomedical research package that also aims to overhaul the mental health system and make targeted changes to Medicare.

Representatives passed an earlier version of the legislation, known as 21st Century Cures, last year, only to see it get delayed in the Senate over disagreements on mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, among other things.

The revised measure is expected to have an easier path in the Senate this time, according to lobbyists and aides. The White House on Tuesday said it “strongly supports” the bill. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said the chamber would vote on the package early next week.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the HELP committee, said her colleagues are “getting very excited” about the bill.

“I think there’s been a lot of good changes made over the last 24 hours that makes me feel a lot more confident,” she said Wednesday.

One of the changes sought by Democrats and Republicans alike was to strike a provision related to federal disclosure requirements for physicians. The language in the updated bill would have exempted doctors from reporting certain compensation they received from pharmaceutical and medical device companies. That provision was dropped after opposition from Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, and others.

Democrats were also able to add language that would direct money to combat opioid abuse to the states with the highest need.

Unlike the earlier bill, the House measure has no language protecting drugmakers’ patents for longer periods. And while the previous bill would have provided $8.75 billion in funding for the NIH over five years, updated language released last week would provide $4.8 billion over a decade for specified projects within the agency, including President Barack Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and cancer “moonshot” program.

The new legislation would also provide $500 million over nine years for the FDA. It would also provide $1 billion to the states to help fight the opioid epidemic.

Offsets for the bill would come mainly from the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve and a fund created in the 2010 health care overhaul to promote disease prevention and public health.

To accommodate the concerns of Republicans in both chambers, sponsors revised a funding mechanism so that dollars would be set aside in what are referred to as “innovation” funds. Appropriators would then need to approve withdrawals from those accounts each year.

The change was met with some backlash from Democrats in both chambers.

“This bill authorizes the NIH for a quarter of the funding that was in the original bill that was passed in the House last year,” Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern said during a Rules Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, on Monday, also blasted the Cures package as a giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry.

“When American voters say Congress is owned by big companies, this bill is exactly what they are talking about,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in a speech on the Senate floor. Senate Republicans have “let Big Pharma hijack the Cures bill. This final deal has only a tiny fig leaf of funding, for NIH and for the opioid crisis,” she said.

Patient-Advocacy Community Urges Congress to Move Forward with 21st Century Cures Legislation

Originally published on the National Health Council website:

Washington, DC (November 16, 2016) – More than 200 patient and research associations representing individuals affected by a broad range of diseases and disabilities sent a letter to Congressional leadership today, calling on them to pass the 21st Century Cures Act during the lame duck session.

The legislation, which passed the House in July 2015 with broad bipartisan support, is based on recommendations from the entire health community and will help ensure access to essential treatments.

“This is a patient-focused bill that will advance the discovery and development of treatments, strengthen the patient voice in the research and regulatory environment, increase funding for the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration, and greatly improve our innovation ecosystem,” the letter said.

Millions of Americans are awaiting effective treatments and cures for chronic diseases or disabilities, and delaying passage of the legislation only makes the wait longer.

Click here to read the letter and see the list of organizations that signed on.

How should Congress use its lame-duck session? First, it can save lives.

Originally published in the Washington Post:

REPUBLICANS ARE signaling that they will pursue an ambitious conservative agenda when they take the reins of government next year. But before that happens, the current Congress will convene in its lame-duck session, valuable legislative time that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this week he hopes to put to good use.

The session may be consumed by arguments over federal budgeting. But if there is time for anything else, Mr. McConnell may push the 21st Century Cures Act, a bipartisan effort that has taken years to get close to passing. Congress should nudge it across the finish line — taking care to repair a few problems along the way.

The act, a version of which passed in the House last year, proposes a one-time, multibillion-dollar increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health. The money could provide a sharp boost to the Obama administration’s cancer initiative, or to research into precision medicine, which tailors treatments to people’s genomes. Rapid progress in both is possible and could save many lives; new cancer drugs have emerged targeting specific mutations in tumor cells, and they have shown encouraging initial results in treating even some of the most complex cancers. The new funding could also go into competitive grants for scientists with particularly innovative projects that are nevertheless underfunded. Given that so many lifesaving pharmaceuticals have their origins in government-sponsored scientific research, the funding boost would be a good investment.

The new money alone, however, would struggle to attract strong bipartisan backing. So lawmakers linked it to various reforms of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process, arguing that the agency has been hamstrung in getting new drugs to market. One reform on the table would adjust hiring standards at the FDA, which is perpetually short-staffed. The agency has improved on the time it takes to approve new medications, but a more flexible hiring policy could help further. There are also worthwhile provisions that would give gravely sick patients with few options easier access to experimental medication.

Critics have raised some valid concerns. For example, lawmakers should ensure that a proposed adjustment to rules on the approval and use of new antibiotics does not have the unintended side effect of encouraging antibiotic overuse and resistance — the very problem the provision is supposed to combat.

The bill’s backers insist that the FDA’s bottom-line legal mandate would continue to ensure that drugs were safe and effective, even as the agency was granted more flexibility in meeting that standard. This means, then, that it would be up to the FDA to use its new powers wisely.

Despite the caveats, though, the act is worth supporting. If the lame-duck Senate can pass its version and merge it with the House’s, addressing some of the concerns in the process, it would be a valuable use of Congress’s time.