Congressional update Friday, Dec. 18, 2015

We are excited that the Omnibus Spending Bill  just passed by Congress contains $2 billion of increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This will help to restore and increase support for critical biomedical research.

Although funding for kidney disease will increase, too, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has highlighted the discrepancy between federal funding for kidney research and Medicare spending for kidney care, stating, “An additional $1.5 billion over ten years could significantly reduce the $80 billion taxpayers are paying each year through Medicare to manage [patients with kidney disease]. Simply delaying the onset of such illnesses by a few years would save American taxpayers billions of dollars annually forever.”

We at the PKD Foundation couldn’t agree more. Significant new therapies for PKD developed through increased research funding by NIH (and the Foundation) would save billions of dollars annually by delaying or preventing the onset of renal failure.

The discrepancy Gingrich speaks of in general kidney research applies even more so to PKD. Between 2011 and 2015, the NIH spent about $77 million per year on cystic fibrosis (CF), but only spent between $36 and $42 million on PKD, even though there are approximately 30-times more Americans afflicted with PKD than CF.

If you can, please congratulate your representative and senators for their part in increasing the NIH budget. In addition, let them know about PKD and how increased research spending would alleviate patient and family suffering and reduce Medicare cost for everyone.

NIH Director, Francis Collins, released the following statement Friday, Dec. 18 regarding the omnibus appropriations for FY16.

Today, President Barack Obama signed into law the FY2016 Omnibus Bill, giving the National Institutes of Health a much needed boost of $2 billion in our fiscal year 2016 budget. This is the most encouraging budget outcome in 12 years.  As Director of NIH, I welcome this development with a deep sense of gratitude.  I applaud the bipartisan support for NIH and biomedical research that made this possible, and want particularly to thank the leadership of the House and Senate.  This increase comes at just the right time to take advantage of remarkable opportunities to improve human health, powered by dramatic advances in scientific knowledge and technological innovation.

It has taken a lot of effort on the part of many voices — patients, advocates, scientists, our many colleagues in the public and private sectors — to make the case for biomedical research.  We are unified by the knowledge that there is no better investment to help accelerate the course of medical progress.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health