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Senate Passes Funding Bill; Includes Money for Myeloma Community
By Greg Brozeit

Funding to help support the IMF’s Bank On A Cure program and implement the Geraldine Ferraro Blood Cancer Education Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted the end of the congressional session for the myeloma and cancer communities.  Unfortunately, funding for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) did not keep pace with the hopes of the myeloma and cancer communities.

The Senate finally passed the fiscal year 2004 appropriations bill to fund the remaining federal departments whose funding was not approved last year on Thursday, January 22, 2004 .  The House passed the bill last December and the president has promised to sign the bill into law. 

As was reported in the winter edition of Myeloma Today, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R-TX) support convinced the conferees to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill to approve $500,000 for the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio to help support the IMF’s Bank On A Cure program.  Bank On A Cure will create a comprehensive DNA bank to help researchers identify genetic markers to assist in diagnosis, facilitate prognosis, and determine drug efficacy not just for myeloma patients, but all who are affected by cancer.

Commenting on the new funding, Sen. Hutchison said, “I have seen firsthand the devastation of multiple myeloma. We need every tool available to advance the diagnosis and treatment of this and other cancers. This DNA bank is just one of many examples of the ingenuity being employed in the fight against cancer, and I'm proud to stand side-by-side with the International Myeloma Foundation in this effort.”

Sen. Hutchison also championed funding of $5 million for a new Geraldine Ferraro Blood Cancer Education Program at CDC.  The funds will be used to establish nationwide education programs for patients and doctors for myeloma, leukemia, and lymphoma.  Details of the program will be made public in the coming year.

Although NCI received an increase of less than $150 million—an increase of just more than three percent—it is far less than previously approved amounts.  Unfortunately, this increase barely keeps the NCI budget increase equal to the rate of inflation.   This will mean less research activity at NCI just when the opportunities are greatest.

 In addition, the 3.7 percent increase for NIH—which will bring total funding to slightly less than $28.3 billion dollars—is significantly less than the 8-10 percent requested by the medical research advocacy community.

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