September 17, 2015

Cassidy, Casey Introduce Legislation to Boost Lifesaving Treatments For At Risk Newborns

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced thePromoting Life Saving New Therapies for Neonates Act of 2015 to increase the amount of life-saving treatments available for at risk newborns. This legislation looks to spur innovation for new neonatal drug therapies, improve outcomes for devastating neonatal conditions and give our most vulnerable children the chance to become healthy.

“Many of us know a child who was born prematurely, or a family whose child was born sick and unfortunately there were not enough treatment options available to save that child,” said Dr. Cassidy.“Hundreds of thousands of children born in the U.S every year require intensive care after birth, but in the past 16 years, only one drug has been approved for these children—that doesn’t add up. We need to have more resources and therapies that are safe and available to use for these children. We have a long way to go, but breaking down barriers for the medical community to develop new treatments is a good start.”

“The safety of American children is paramount. We should encourage the research and medical professional communities countrywide to excel, imagine, and innovate to keep that protection in the forefront,” said Sen. Casey. “Providing the resources needed to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of premature newborns are cared for and that as a community we are making strides to significantly lower the cases of preventable infant mortality is key.”

Annually, approximately 200,000 newborns in the U.S. require admission to a neonatal intensive care unit for treatment of prematurity, costing more than $26 billion per year. Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn mortality and the second leading cause of infant mortality. Among those who survive, one in five faces health problems that persist for life such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, chronic lung disease, and deafness.

Despite this, the last new drug approved by the FDA for neonates was in 1999. The Promoting Life Saving New Therapies for Neonates Act looks to stimulate innovation for the neonatal population by increasing incentives and reducing some of the challenges the medical community faces.

The legislation will:

  • Close the treatment gap by stimulating the development of safe and effective drugs for a challenging and neglected pediatric population.
  • Ensure that new neonatal drugs address the most critical needs in the neonatal population by collaborating with multiple stakeholders, such as the NIH, the Critical Path Institute, and patient advocacy groups, to identify priority conditions.
  • Create a new incentive model by providing a transferrable “exclusivity voucher” to drug sponsors who successfully develop products for neonates. This voucher would enable the product sponsor to extend the exclusivity period on another drug by one year.