Fred Upton and Diana DeGette: Can we find cures for 7,000 diseases?

Despite the conventional wisdom that Washington is a frozen island of partisanship, a hopeful thaw is underway. For the past year, we have been spearheading a bipartisan effort to update the process of discovering, developing and delivering medical therapies to help people live longer and better lives.

After months of listening to experts and stakeholders, the path to faster cures is clearer than ever. We call it the 21st Century Cures initiative, and Congress is about to take a major leap down this road of hope.

There are over 7,000 diseases yet we only have cures and treatments for 500 of them. This unacceptable fact led to one simple question: What policies can we enact to help get more cures and treatments to patients?

Our review revealed several areas of reform that will close the gap between the science of medicine and the regulations that impact the volume and fate of new therapies. Our legislation will modernize all of these categories, removing outdated hurdles that can prevent innovation from flourishing or from fleeing the United States.

First, we must modernize clinical trials to streamline the approval of drugs and devices. Safety has and always will be a top priority. But the old approach of automatically applying a therapy to a broad group of patients is no longer the best path forward, particularly for those diseases for which we do not have a treatment or cure.