American Association for Cancer Research

AACR Cancer Policy Monitor

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June 2011



Debate over NIH funding levels expected to begin next month; 41 senators urge "strong commitment" to NIH investment


The House approved a spending bill this month that would substantially cut funding for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and would carry implications for cancer control and research.

The fiscal year 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriation bill would cut 11.5 percent from the FDA’s current FY2011 budget. The FDA serves as the nexus between new cancer discovery and cancer treatment by carrying out the evaluation, approval and monitoring of medical products.

Additionally, two cancer-related provisions were contained in the bill: one citing concerns about pediatric cancers and encouraging the FDA to collaborate with industry and the pediatric cancer community to promote the development of new therapies; another citing concerns about skin cancer and instructing the FDA to issue a final rule before the end of this year requiring UVA and UVB testing and labeling on over-the-counter sunscreens. The FDA responded on June 14 with final regulations that establish standards for testing the effectiveness of sunscreen products and require labeling that accurately reflects test results so that consumers can be better informed on which products offer the greatest benefit.

House committee development of the Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Services (Labor-HHS) spending bill, which includes funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is expected to take place in late July, with a vote by the full House possibly occurring in September.

In the Senate, as of yet, little progress has been made on any FY2012 spending bills, although there was a recent groundswell of support in that chamber for investment in the NIH. In an effort led by Senators Robert Casey (D-Penn.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), 41 senators, including seven Republicans and 34 Democrats, signed a letter urging Senate appropriators to maintain a “strong commitment” to funding NIH in the coming fiscal year.

Members of the AACR joined thousands of others in the biomedical research community in calling on their senators to sign this important letter, which names NIH as the nation’s best hope for treating or curing disease and for containing health care costs, and shows meaningful support for NIH as senators begin to determine fiscal priorities for FY2012.

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