Breaking News: Senate committee bumps up funding for NIH

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On June 12, a Senate funding subcommittee voted on funding allocations for programs in health, human services, labor and education for the federal fiscal year beginning October 1, 2012.   Many details have not been released and more information will become available when the full Senate appropriations committee votes on the bill on Thursday, June 14.  But here is what we know —

The bill increases spending for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health by $100 million for total funding of $30.723 billion.  The Senate subcommittee also increased spending for the federal AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which has been plagued by funding shortfalls and state-based waiting lists, by $30 million.  Other good news in the bill is the committee’s adoption of language that would allow federal funding for syringe exchange programs in consultation with local health and law enforcement officials.  This language is a welcome departure from the explicit prohibition of funding for syringe exchange contained in the House bill funding global HIV and other global health programs.

We are still waiting for information about the funding status of the CDC Division of TB Elimination which provides funding for domestic TB control, but also funds the TB Trials Consortium, which conducts important clinical trials testing new TB drugs in the US and around the world.  Stay tuned.

There is no word about when the House counterpart to this committee will make its funding decisions about these programs.  There may not be a House bill at all.  Most Hill watchers are convinced that final funding decisions about these programs will be decided at the eleventh hour either soon before or after the Presidential election as part of a very large funding bill.

And FDA transfers funds to research foundation . . .

A nonprofit foundation that is leading efforts to develop more effective tuberculosis treatment by exploring the impacts of multi-drug regimens will get a boost from a transfer of $900,000 from the Food and Drug Administration.

The Reagan-Udall Foundation, launched in 2007 to advance medical treatment and food safety with evidence-driven research is coordinating global efforts to test tuberculosis drugs in combination, on patients with multi-drug resistant strains of infection, as well as those with strains that respond to current medication. The goal is to develop short, tolerable, and effective treatment regimens for patients now struggling to complete 6-month regimens of daily injections and at least 18 months of a dozen daily pills – a hurdle only 10 percent of multi-drug resistant patients are able to clear.

About 650,000 people are estimated to be living with drug-resistant tuberculosis, which is then transmitted to others. Lengthy treatment and severe side effects in resource poor settings are among the factors driving the rise of drug resistant TB.

The foundation received $1 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to coordinate the effort to find new treatment answers through the Critical Path to TB Multidrug Regimens Project.

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