Fauci: Lifesaving leadership on the line

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NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci

NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci has testified in front of Congress more than two hundred times over the past thirty years. Every single one of those times, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease said at a congressional briefing Wednesday, law makers asked him what’s been done with the money they’ve given him.

He tells them  that thanks to research conducted at the National Institutes of Health, he can tell a 25-year-old man who would have had a life expectancy of months in 1994 that he will live for another fifty years with antiretroviral therapy.

He tells them that NIH work to combat HIV has advanced drug development for other diseases which often accompany the virus, including hepatitis C. Treatment for the disease that required a toxic, 48-week therapy that cured only 40 percent of patients can be replaced by a much less toxic 4 -to -6 week regimen that cures almost all patients.

Those are the kind of advances that are threatened by budget cuts, Fauci added. The NIH has seen a 25 percent decrease in purchasing power over the last decade, due to flat-lined funding and sequestration cuts, and their budget not keeping up with biomedical research inflation, he said. “You can’t do the things we’ve been doing for the past few years with 25 percent less in purchasing power,” Fauci said.

“We’ve been the biggest leaders in the world in biomedical research, but now we’re losing it,” he said, citing that 18 to 20 percent of researchers for now doing what was unthinkable a decade ago and leaving the U.S. to conduct research in other countries where the resources for it are more readily available, like China, India, and Singapore.

The briefing was hosted by the Coalition for Life Sciences.

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