Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) joined Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) President & CEO Dr. Donald Trump and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Federal Government Relations Director Hillary Clarke to outline the local impact of federal investments in cancer research and the devastating impact cuts, including possible sequestration, would have on both the economy and the effort to improve cancer outcomes.
“Sequestration and general disinvestment in biomedical research threatens the great momentum that is turning cancer patients into cancer survivors,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the Congressional Cancer Caucus. “This report is just further evidence of the rewards, both financial and life altering, of a real and substantial federal investment in cancer research.”
“The support of cancer research by the federal government is the basis for increased survival rates and the development of new drugs, devices and tools,” said Dr. Donald Trump, President and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, “NCI funding leverages private investment and creates jobs.”
“Mandatory cuts in federal funding for medical research could reverse progress in the fight against cancer and leave new breakthroughs to languish in the labs,” said Hillary Clarke, Director of Federal Government Relations for ACS CAN. “Lawmakers should act to avoid these indiscriminate cuts and make the fight to defeat a disease that still kills 1,500 people a day in this country a national priority.”
If Congress doesn’t act, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be among other government agencies hit by automatic, across-the-board cuts through sequestration.
According to the report, in 2011 $23.6 billion in NIH-supported medical research generates $69 billion in other new economic activity, creating and supporting nearly 433,000 jobs. Based on an analysis
by United for Medical Research, in New York State alone sequestration could result in over $101 million in cuts to biomedical research and 1,600 job losses.
Higgins noted that decreases would be devastating locally on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus where 12,000 people are employed today and 5,000 more jobs are expected to be created by 2017.
Cancer costs the country more than $226 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity annually and that number will grow as cancer rates are expected to double by 2020 due to the aging baby boomer population. Nevertheless, our nation’s investment in cancer research is not keeping pace. Today, total NIH funding represents less than 1% of the total budget and only 17% of that supports cancer related research. Adjusted for inflation, the NCI budget has decreased by21% since 2003.
Today the United States is home to almost 14 million survivors thanks in part to advances made possible through research and clinical trials. In 2011 the NIH supported $5.4 billion in cancer research leading to new treatments and drugs.
One of the most dramatic examples of success stories come in the area of pediatric cancer outcomes. Roswell Park Cancer Institute is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group, a National Cancer Institute supported clinical trials group and the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. Fifty years ago childhood cancer was virtually incurable but through advances made possible through federally funded research, today the 5-year survival rate for children is 80%.
This however is just one cancer area benefiting from new interventions discovered through federally supported research. In 2012, RPCI received over $60 million through the NIH to support more than 237 projects.
“Funding from the federal government has not grown over the last 5 years but the impending 8% cut to the NIH coupled with cuts to Medicare and other taxes and reductions to be phased in over the next 10 years will have a devastating effect on the progress we are making in the fight against cancer,” added Dr. Trump.
Congressman Higgins, a member of the Congressional Cancer Caucus, is a frequent outspoken advocate for an increased federal investment in cancer research. Higgins is fighting for insurance companies to provide coverage parity for new smart drugs. Last year he testified
before the House of Representatives Budget Committee calling for the doubling of funding for medical research over the next 5 years.