At a press conference today in the United States Capitol, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, unveiled the Spending Reductions through Innovations in Therapies (SPRINT) Act, bipartisan legislation which would spur innovation in research and drug development for chronic health conditions such as Alzheimer's, that are leading causes of death as well as the most costly to taxpayers. Senator Mikulski was joined by the bill's cosponsors, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.), along with Representatives Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. Also participating was George Vradenburg, co-founder and chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer's.
"I believe 'honor thy mother and father' is not just a good commandment to live by, it is good public policy to govern by," Senator Mikulski said. "I'm so proud to introduce the SPRINT Act, which will help us sprint to the finish line by getting drugs through the valley of death from bench to bedside more quickly for chronic diseases like Alzheimer's. By acting now, we can save billions in future health care spending and long term care costs. This bill saves lives and saves money. Through a public/private partnership that ensures each federal dollar is matched by two dollars in private investment, we can zero in on the diseases that are the most deadly and the most costly. Let's put America's biomedical innovation economy to work and bring an end to Alzheimer's once and for all."
"If we want to balance the federal budget, we must invest in medical research today," said Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "We will only defeat high-cost chronic diseases like Alzheimer's if we accelerate the discovery and development of safe and effective diagnositics and treatments. The SPRINT Act will support smart investments now that will save hundreds of billions of dollars in the years to come through promising potential therapies. Researchers currently do not have the funding to do a fraction of what they want to do and are ready to do. We need a government-wide commitment to defeating Alzheimer's disease, and it must begin today."
"Alzheimer's and other chronic conditions take a tremendous personal and economic toll on millions of Americans and their families. Moreover, in addition to the human suffering they cause, they pose significant challenges to the fiscal health of our nation," said Senator Collins, who is cochair of Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's. "Our legislation is intended to speed the development of therapies to significantly modify, cure, or prevent these high-cost, chronic conditions. A relatively small federal investment today will offer millions of people hope, and it will also offer us an opportunity to control the costs."
Said Blumenthal, "Alzheimer's and other high-cost chronic conditions pose significant challenges and are a critical public health issue. The SPRINT Act is a much needed step to spur development and approval of more effective and cost saving treatments. By focusing on incentives for research and development and fast track FDA review, we ensure the rapid delivery of crucial new therapies to the Americans who desperately need them."
"Every day counts to the millions of people living with Alzheimer's and other chronic conditions and none of those days should be spent suffering without treatment," said Sen. Kerry. "This legislation will help speed up the kinds of research and biotechnology that leads to life saving treatments that will save money. I'm proud to be part of a bipartisan team in Congress that's working together to encourage these advancements in Massachusetts and across the country."
"We are at a leadership moment in the Alzheimer's Movement," said George Vradenburg, Co-Founder of USAgainstAlzheimer's and member of the national Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services. "Achieving the national goal of reducing healthcare costs by preventing or effectively treating Alzheimer's by 2025 or earlier requires us to jettison a 'business-as-usual' approach to drug discovery. The SPRINT Bill challenges us to rethink how we can increase the volume and velocity of effective treatments to patients suffering from multiple chronic conditions."
The SPRINT Act will help speed the development of drugs and therapies to combat the most deadly and costly chronic diseases, including Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes and heart diseases. It invests in public-private partnerships to ensure scientists and researchers are able to develop new safe and effective drugs.
The bill compresses the product development timelines and increases the volume of drugs in the development pipeline so that priority is given to the most promising pharmaceuticals. Additionally, it expedites the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review process so that drugs can be brought more quickly to market to the patients who need them.
The legislation saves the federal government and taxpayers by working to cure the diseases that bear the greatest health care costs. It requires that every $1 in federal funds is matched by $2 in private investment so that federal dollars are best spent on market-tested and market-ready drugs. Alzheimer's disease alone will cost the nation $183 billion in 2012, 70 percent of which is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
In addition to USAgainstAlzheimer's, it is supported by Alzheimer's Association, American Health Assistance Foundation, Alzheimer's Disease Research, Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, Alzheimer's Foundation of America, Alliance for Aging Research, American Geriatric Society, Cure Alzheimer's Fund, Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy, Colorado Access, Critical Path Institute, Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer's Initiative, National Alliance for Caregiving, National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities, National Family Caregiver's Association, Retire Safe, and Volunteers of America.
Following introduction, the bill will move to the Senate HELP Committee for further debate.