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Obama Signs 21st Century Cures Act For Cancer Research

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President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act bill into law legislation, on a “bittersweet day” on the White House campus.

Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and lawmakers from both parties, Obama remembered his mother, who died of cancer in her early 50s. Biden’s son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015, the New York Times reports.

The law invests $1.8 billion in cancer research “moonshot” projects, which Biden strongly supports. Obama said, “It’s not always easy to remember, but being able to honor those we’ve lost in this way and to know that we may be able to prevent other families from feeling that same loss, that makes it a good day.” He added,

It’s a good day to see us doing our jobs.

The bill also gives states $1 billion over a span of two years for the prevention and treatment of heroin, opioid and addictive drug abuses. It has a $6.3 billion planned budget over the coming decade.

The 21st Century Cures Act likewise streamlines the approval process for new medicines and medical devices at the Food and Drug Administration, which some patient rights groups have criticized. Public Citizen said that this bill might mean the FDA will start approving drugs and devices based on weaker safety and efficacy merit, “This bill remains a bad deal for patient safety, offering a small, temporary and non-guaranteed increase in public research funding at the expense of permanently weakening oversight by the Food and Drug Administration.”

The signing ceremony was a rare sight in Obama’s administration: members of both parties gathered together in a celebration of bipartisan agreement over the milestone of passing an important piece of legislation.

Biden said he believes the bill will emphasize the urgency of fighting cancer, and will give Americans renewed hope. “Every day, millions of people are praying, praying for hope, praying for time.”

Obama also mentioned his health insurance law, that might get repealed with the incoming presidency, saying, “I’m hopeful in the years ahead that Congress keeps working together in a bipartisan fashion to move us forward, rather than backward in support of the health of our people.”

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