Legislation Introduced to Advance Biomedical Research Stalled by Pandemic

U.S. Representatives Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) have introduced the Long-term Opportunities for Advancing New Studies (LOANS) for Biomedical Research Act (H.R. 3437), new bipartisan legislation that would fund critical research on treatments and cures for diseases including Alzheimer’s, cancer, blindness, juvenile diabetes, and sickle-cell anemia. The bill would authorize a federally backed loan program for clinical trials that have received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance and are focused on finding much-needed treatments and cures.

“The accelerated development of COVID-19 vaccines over the past year has proved that significant investment in medical research and development can speed the development of cures and treatments. Millions of Americans suffering from cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other terrible diseases cannot afford to wait for vital treatments and cures while clinical trials are disrupted,” said Rush. “We must use every federal avenue to restart U.S. biomedical research and ensure that the clinical trials necessary to take basic research to the bedside receive the funding they urgently need.”

“More funding is needed for critical research, treatment, and cures for deadly diseases,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “We must do whatever we can to fight for patients, survivors, and those adversely affected by halted clinical trials during the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide a unique funding mechanism going forward to restart stalled biomedical research in the U.S.”

The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted clinical trials, negatively impacting patients who were enrolled in or awaiting clinical trials for deadly and debilitating conditions. Recent research indicates that more than 1,000 clinical trials remain disrupted as funding and other resources continue to be diverted to address the ongoing pandemic.

The LOANS for Biomedical Research Act would fill these funding gaps without additional deficit spending and at minimal cost to taxpayers by creating a new class of investments called BioBonds—financial instruments comprised of loans to eligible biomedical companies and universities which have received FDA authorization for clinical trials advancing novel treatments and cures. Since borrowers are required to be able to repay these extensions of credit regardless of project success, investors in BioBonds would be those with long-term, risk-adverse capital such as pension funds and insurers, rather than venture capitalists or pharmaceutical companies. The legislation would help restart stalled biomedical research in the U.S. and reduce the perennial shortage of funds for critical research into diseases affecting millions.

The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Sanford Bishop (D-Ala.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), and Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.).

Edited by Gary Cramer