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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Bilirakis OPENs the Door to Accelerating Cures & Treatments

February 13, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Representative Gus Bilirakis, member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, today introduced H.R. 971, the Orphan Product Extensions Now Accelerating Cures & Treatments Act (OPEN ACT). The OPEN ACT will incentivize drug makers and innovators to “repurpose” major market drugs for life-threatening rare diseases and pediatric cancers, which opens the door to the development of hundreds of safe, effective, and affordable treatments for rare disease patients.

“There are over 7,000 rare diseases, impacting 30 million Americans – that is nearly one in ten people. Over 95% of these diseases have no treatments, because each rare disease impacts a small number of patients. My bill will leverage the free market to incentivize drug makers to repurpose drugs to treat rare diseases,” Bilirakis said. “The OPEN ACT has the potential to result in hundreds of new drugs and treatments for individuals with rare diseases, as well as a new surge in biotechnology jobs and investments. This bill can help millions of people by ensuring medications are safe and effective for rare conditions, and can be reimbursed through insurance coverage.”

132 rare disease advocacy groups support the OPEN ACT, noting that the legislation “promises to improve the quality of life for the nearly 30 million Americans suffering from rare diseases.”

Congressman Bilirakis heard about the importance of repurposing drugs from participants in a local 21st Century Cures Roundtable he hosted, and has spoken about the importance of repurposing drugs at a hearing in July of 2014.