The U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Improving Access to Clinical Trials Act" (I-ACT), in a victory for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, its advocates and 120 other health advocacy organizations.
The bill, which passed the Senate Aug. 5, now goes to President Obama's desk for his signature. He is expected to sign it.
This legislation enables patients with rare diseases to participate in clinical trials without losing eligibility for public health care benefits.
Passage of this legislation is particularly important for people with CF, a rare genetic disease. A limited patient population makes it challenging to find enough people to participate in research studies evaluating the effectiveness of promising new drugs.
"Because of this groundbreaking legislation, people with CF and other rare diseases will no longer be forced to choose between critical health care coverage and participation in research that could lead to the development of a cure for our most serious illnesses," said Robert J. Beall, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "We are grateful to our champions in Congress for approving this bill, which will help move new treatments more swiftly from the lab to the patients who need them most."
Congressional Cystic Fibrosis Caucus Co-Chairs, Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., led the effort to pass the bill in the House. The House version of the legislation, H.R. 2866, has 141 co-sponsors.
"No one should have to choose between participating in a clinical trial and accessing the essential benefits they need. Today's bill will open doors of hope and offer the possibility of better health to those with rare diseases like cystic fibrosis. I am proud to partner with my friend and co-chairman of the Congressional Cystic Fibrosis Caucus, Congressman Cliff Stearns, in the passage of this bi-partisan bill, which now will be signed into law by President Obama. I also want to commend the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for its incredible work on this vital issue. Today represents an important and hopeful milestone in the battle to beat devastating rare diseases that afflict millions of Americans around the country," Markey said.
Added Stearns: "As co-chair and co-founder of the Congressional Cystic Fibrosis Caucus, I commend my colleagues for approving this legislation allowing people with rare diseases such as cystic fibrosis to participate in life-saving clinical trials that provide nominal compensation without the risk of losing their health care coverage. I also deeply appreciate the work of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in supporting my legislation."
The Senate version of the legislation, S. 1674, was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., with Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., as original co-sponsors. An additional 17 co-sponsors signed on.
Current law prevents many people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from accepting research compensation because it makes them ineligible to receive government medical benefits. This penalty has stopped significant numbers of people with rare diseases from participating in clinical studies.
Source: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation