August 03, 2017

Van Hollen Bill to Advance Treatments for Childhood Cancer Passes Senate

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) today applauded the passage in the U.S. Senate of the RACE for Children Act as part of the FDA User Fees reauthorization bill.

In February, Senators Van Hollen, Bennet, Rubio, and Gardner, along with Representatives Michael T. McCaul (R-TX), G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), Sean Duffy (R-WI), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY), introduced the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act to support the development of innovative and promising cancer drugs for children. The RACE for Children Act passed in the House of Representatives in July. The bill is now on the way to the President's desk to be signed into law.

"Passage of the RACE for Children Act is a win for kids and families coping with cancer," Van Hollen said. "No childhood should be interrupted by a struggle for survival, but cancer tragically puts far too many kids in Maryland and across the country in a battle for their lives. The legislation will modernize drug development regulations to help build on the progress being made at institutions like the National Institutes of Health. We won't stop fighting to save children and their families from the misery of this horrific disease."

"Today's passage of the RACE for Children Act is a breakthrough for kids in Colorado and around the country fighting cancer," Bennet said. "This legislation will open the door for cutting-edge treatments and precision medicines that could make all the difference for kids battling this devastating disease. We are thankful to every family that engaged in this process. Because of them, kids will have a better chance to beat cancer and reclaim their lives."

"The RACE for Children Act is an important measure that will provide children battling cancer with more, promising treatment options," Rubio said. "Pediatric cancer is a leading cause of death by disease among children and yet children do not have the same number of treatment options as adults. This bill will help fix that, and I commend my colleagues for sending this potentially life-saving legislation to the president's desk so that children with cancer have hope for a better future."

"The FDA user fee legislation approved by the Senate today included a bipartisan provision to increase access of life-saving cancer treatment and treatment for other serious illnesses for children," Gardner said. "We have to do all we can to help treat children from life-threatening illnesses. Senator Bennet has been a leader on this issue and I was proud to work alongside him. I look forward the president signing this legislation into law."

The bipartisan RACE for Children Act, first introduced in the 114th Congress, would update the Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA) to reflect the latest advances in cancer drugs. Congress enacted PREA in 2003 to address the scarcity of information about how to treat children with drugs developed and approved for adults. Although PREA has resulted in new information on how to treat children for a multitude of drugs over the years, there are still limited pediatric studies for cancer drugs. This bill would update PREA by ensuring that the most innovative molecular-targeted drugs for cancer are also studied for children. The bill also directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to work with manufacturers to speed up studies for drugs that treat serious or life-threatening diseases in children.

Numerous pediatric oncology groups support the RACE for Children Act, including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, St. Baldrick's Foundation, Kids v. Cancer, Moffitt Cancer Center, Nemours Children's Health System, Arnold Palmer Hospital, the Children's Hospital Colorado, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Children's Medical Center of Dallas, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, Texas Children's Hospital, the Alliance for Childhood Cancer, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.