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Cole Introduces Bipartisan Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0

January 28, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) joined Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), Congressman Peter Welch (VT-AL) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) in the bipartisan introduction of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0. Cole was a leading advocate and coauthor of the original Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which was signed into law in 2014 and created the Kids First Pediatric Research Program.

The bill introduced this week would 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) toward 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 would help channel those funds directly to critical medical research focused on children. The bill is named in honor and remembrance of Gabriella Miller, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and passed away in 2013 at age 10.

“I have long been a proponent of medical research especially for illnesses and diseases that affect our most vulnerable,” said Congressman Tom Cole. “The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0 would expand funding for childhood diseases by redirecting existing monetary penalties levied against pharmaceutical, dietary supplements and cosmetics manufacturers toward valuable research. By doing this, we can hopefully uncover links between childhood cancer and birth defects and save the lives of children. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this important piece of legislation.”

"Tens of thousands of children in Virginia and across the country are depending on the development of new treatments and cures, yet funding remains at a historic low. This bill will give scientists and researchers greater resources in the fight against childhood cancer and rare diseases," said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. "I went into public service to better the lives of my constituents, and it’s an honor to work with Ellyn Miller to ensure no other family goes through what her family did. I'm proud to carry this legislation in Gabriella's honor, whose passionate advocacy changed the lives of countless other young children battling these illnesses."

“Establishing the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Fund was an important step to help children battle rare cancers,” said Congressman Peter Welch. “This new legislation will make sure that fines levied against Pharma’s bad actors will be put towards a good cause—researching cures to these terrible childhood cancers. I hope that Congress can once again put down the partisan battle axes to give children a better chance at beating these brutal diseases.”

“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,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis. “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 large-scale data resource to help researchers uncover new insights into the biology of childhood cancer and structural birth defects, including the discovery of shared genetic pathways between these disorders. This foundational research is critical for facilitating a better 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.”

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. This legislation provides a new source of funding for the program, which is expected to be exponentially larger and without an end date.

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 ages 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 percent 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.

The full text of the bill can be found here.