The U.S. Senate passed legislation on Wednesday to fund cancer and Alzheimer’s research, reshape the way the FDA approves medication, fight the opioid epidemic, and increase access to mental health treatment. The 21st Century Cures Act was passed by the House of Representatives last week and heads to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law. “For the second consecutive year, the Senate is sending the President another Christmas miracle for his signature,” GOP Senator Lamar Alexander said, adding that the measure “will help virtually every American family.” Though the legislation has many supporters and passed in a 94-5 vote, critics of the measure—including Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders—say it lowers standards for drug approvals and gives unnecessary handouts to the pharmaceutical industry. “This gift—which 1,300 lobbyists, mostly from pharmaceutical companies, helped sell—comes at the expense of patient safety by undermining requirements for ensuring safe and effective medications and medical devices,” said a statement released by consumer watchdog Public Citizen.
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