Newspaper article Roll Call

Let's Bolster Science and Innovation by Rolling Back the Sequester | Commentary

Newspaper article Roll Call

Let's Bolster Science and Innovation by Rolling Back the Sequester | Commentary

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Let's Bolster Science and Innovation by Rolling Back the Sequester | Commentary

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* By Steven Knapp and Rush D. Holt

* May 20, 2015, 1:33 p.m.

Here is a tale of two diseases. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the past two years alone have seen a rollout of 19 new cancer drugs. Long-term investments in understanding the fundamental molecular biology of cancer, beginning with President Richard M. Nixon's launching of his "War on Cancer" in 1971, have generated huge returns for Americans, with powerful new immunotherapies now in the development pipeline. But here is another, less positive tale: Over the past decade, no new drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help the 5 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer's disease, a number expected to grow dramatically in the coming years, at a huge cost to the U.S. economy as well as to American families.

Although it faces stiff opposition on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama's fiscal 2016 budget proposal would provide a much- needed 8.7 percent boost in federal funding for Alzheimer's disease research directed by the National Institutes of Health, in part by rolling back spending caps set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011. Funding increases to advance U.S. science and innovation are urgently needed: federal research and development as a share of the nation's economy last year dropped to its lowest point in about 50 years. Meanwhile, Medicare spending related to the treatment of Alzheimer's disease now stands at $150 billion, and it continues to climb. Removing the non-strategic, across-the-board caps known as "sequestration" to achieve a small (3.3 percent) proposed 2016 increase for the NIH overall, along with similarly modest increases for other science agencies, is a strategic imperative. …

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