The availability of promising new drugs to improve or even save our lives depends on an important but little-known federal law, the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA). This law will expire in September if Congress does not renew it this summer.

As a person who works with biomedical researchers, and as a patient, I know firsthand how important PDUFA is in getting Americans new medical drugs safely and in a timely manner. Before PDUFA, it often took years for a promising new drug to make its way through the government approval process — unnecessarily keeping treatments away from patients whose lives could be better with them. With PDUFA in place the past 30 years, the biopharmaceutical industry and the FDA have had a constructive relationship that has eliminated excessive delays while ensuring drugs are safe and effective.

The drug testing and approval process of PDUFA works. We do not want the return of delays that deny patients ways to improve their lives. As an advocate, and as a patient, I believe that Congress should take action and reauthorize PDUFA as soon as possible, so we can keep science working for America.

Ken Gordon, Seattle, executive director, Northwest Association, Biomedical Research