The House of Representatives this week approved three more of the committee's bipartisan public health bills, building on a strong record of success. These bills will streamline and update the approval process for new sunscreen ingredients, help the Muscular Dystrophy community, and help combat the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Each of these bills was passed by a voice vote.
Committee members Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) authored H.R. 4250, the Sunscreen Innovation Act, to establish a more efficient review process to ensure quicker FDA approval of new sunscreen ingredients, while maintaining strict safety standards. "This past April, the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the Sunscreen Innovation Act where all of the expert witnesses, including the FDA, were in agreement that the current approval process is broken and in need of reform," said Whitfield. "So the objective of the Sunscreen Innovation Act is twofold - first, to expedite the review of pending applications at FDA and second, to create a timely and transparent process for new applications to be reviewed and acted on. The framework outlined in this legislation strikes an appropriate balance between consumer safety and access to the very best sunscreen product."
Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added, "Unfortunately, advancements in sunscreen have failed to keep pace with the increased awareness of the harm overexposure to the sun can cause. We have had great success at the Energy and Commerce Committee this Congress with over a dozen public health bills already signed into law. I am confident this commonsense bill, which received unanimous support at the committee, will soon be a part of our strong record of results. The American people will be better for it."
H.R. 594, the Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research and Education Amendments of 2014, introduced by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), updates surveillance, research, and education activities to reflect scientific developments and continue the support of research and patient support initiatives across all forms of Muscular Dystrophy. "Since 2001 this law has successfully changed the lives of families impacted by all forms of Muscular Dystrophy. It has coordinated and focused federal biomedical research on 9 forms of Muscular Dystrophy, developed epidemiologic data, and created patient care guidelines," said Burgess. "And here's the good news, it has made a real difference."
H.R. 4709, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2014, addresses the growing problem of prescription drug abuse while ensuring patient access to necessary medications. Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) explained, "H.R. 4709 will improve enforcement efforts regarding the complex and challenging problem of prescription drug diversion and abuse. It will ensure patient access to necessary medications by creating a more collaborative partnership between drug manufacturers, wholesalers, retail pharmacies, and federal enforcement and oversight agencies such as DEA and the FDA."
Full Committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), an original sponsor of H.R. 4709, added, "Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that is killing tens of thousands of Americans each year. It is a problem that is in great need of a solution. That is why I worked with my colleagues Tom Marino, Peter Welch and Judy Chu, in sponsoring this bipartisan legislation to facilitate greater collaboration between industry stakeholders and regulators in our nation's effort to combat prescription drug abuse, while also ensuring that patients who need medication are able to receive it. Simply acknowledging the epidemic of prescription drug abuse isn't enough. Congress has a responsibility to make sure the law is crystal clear for both DEA and legitimate businesses who want to understand what the rules are so they can do the right thing. That is why I am so pleased the House has acted today on our legislation that seeks to ensure the prescription drug supply chain is safe and secure for the patients that truly rely upon it to alleviate pain and treat illnesses."