Congress passed a bi-partisan bill Wednesday that backers say is a major boost for U.S. disease research. The 21st Century Cures Act will provide nearly $5 billion to the National Institutes of Health for research into diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's. Another one billion dollars will go to state efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Denver, co-authored the legislation, "so that we can take advantage of things like the mapping of the human genome and computer medical records and things like that to get cures much more quickly to patients."
Some critics, including former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the advocacy group Public Citizen, say the legislation was rushed through and allows shortcuts in the approval process for new drugs and medical devices.
Sanders says the bill provides "no relief for soaring drug prices," but President Obama backs the bill and is expected to sign it.
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