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Bilirakis, Wexton, Welch and Cole Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Kids with Cancer

February 1, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC -- Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Jennifer Wexton, Peter Welch and Tom Cole have just introduced the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0. The legislation would provide a new source of funding for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program (Kids First) by redirecting penalties collected from pharmaceutical, cosmetic, supplement, and medical device companies that break the law.


Pediatric cancer remains the number one disease that leads to the death of American children. While survival rates have improved for some types of pediatric cancers, thousands of children are lost to cancer each year and many more encounter life threatening complications related to harsh chemotherapies. Children have significantly fewer treatment options than adults and oftentimes must rely on treatment regimens developed for adults because pediatric-specific treatments simply do not exist for many pediatric cancers and rare diseases. The Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is working to develop a more clear understanding of pediatric cancers, and holds the promise for the development of better treatments and possible cures. As a longtime advocate for children and rare disease patients, I am proud to join my colleagues in pushing for the continuation of this crucial research by providing new funding sources,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis.


The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act was signed into law in 2014, establishing the Ten-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund and authorizing $12.6 million in annual funds for childhood disease research through Fiscal Year 2023. Since the original law was enacted, Kids First has made progress towards understanding childhood cancer and disease, such as initiating the Gabriella Miller Kids First Data Resource Center—a comprehensive data resource for research and patient communities meant to advance discoveries. Today’s legislation provides a new source of funding for the program which is expected to be exponentially larger and without an end date.   Specifically, this new bill will redirect penalties levied against pharmaceutical, cosmetic, supplement, and medical device companies by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA) towards the Kids First program. In recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties have been levied against these companies, and the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0 will help channel those funds directly to critical medical research focused on children.


In 2021, it is estimated that 10,500 children in the U.S. under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is the number one cause of disease-related death in children age 14 and younger in the U.S. Childhood cancers differ from those found in adults in that they do not stem from lifestyle or other common risk factors. Many children with cancer do not respond well to conventional treatments, which have resulted in long-term health and disability issues for patients, even if the cancer is successfully cured. Yet, only 4% of the government’s funding for cancer research is specifically directed towards the development of treatments and cures for childhood cancer and other rare diseases.