Speeding treatments Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating affliction that has affected millions of families, including my own. Although treatments can relieve symptoms for this neurological malady, there is no cure. Over 130 million Americans suffer from a chronic condition or disease. A mom whose child, stricken with Duchenne’s, struggles to jump rope; a grandmother, suffering from Alzheimer’s, has trouble remembering her granddaughter’s name; and a father afflicted with COPD struggling to breathe represent just a few of the millions of families whose personal battles inspire me to do everything in my power to advance treatments and cures. There are over 7,000 known diseases. Treatments exist for 500 of them. Americans have always been an innovative and industrious people. Many breakthroughs across all industries throughout the 20th and 21st centuries were pioneered by Americans. Why then is there a lack of innovation and movement in health care now?
That is the question the 21st Century Cures Initiative seeks to answer. The initiative examines the “discovery-development-delivery” cycle for treatments — the process of how better treatments can get to patients more quickly. Whether it is from medical devices or medicine, treatments for patients suffering from chronic and rare diseases must be discovered on the ground level through basic science, then developed into a practical, usable and marketable product, and finally delivered to the patients so the treatment may be effectively utilized. This is not a partisan issue. Getting better treatments to patients more quickly is not political, because chronic and rare diseases do not discriminate based on political affiliation. This initiative is a way to start the dialogue with people who are directly impacted. As a member of the Energy and Congress Committee, I am proud to have participated in solution-oriented meetings with all stakeholders to discuss possible improvements. For me, 21st Century Cures is about the patient. I want to streamline processes that will help provide effective and timely treatments to all Americans who suffer from a rare or chronic disease. Gus Bilirakis Palm Harbor The writer, a Republican, represents Pasco County and northern Pinellas County in the U.S. House.