This article by Ellen V. Sigel, Ph.D., was originally published in STAT (https://www.statnews.com/) on May 24, 2017. Ellen V. Sigal is founder and chair of Friends of Cancer Research, (https://www.focr.org/ ) an advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. BioQuick News ran into Dr. Sigel at the recent Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC 2017) at Duke May 24-25, and received permission to reprint this important opinion piece: Since taking office, President Trump has done right by the scientific and patient communities by placing strong leaders at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. After a four-month vacancy in the FDA’s top job, Dr. Scott Gottlieb now runs this essential agency, and Dr. Francis Collins is continuing his leadership of the NIH. With these experienced and thoughtful leaders in place, there is reason to be optimistic that the progress promised by the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act in December 2016 will be fully realized. But the president’s newly released budget seems to move in the opposite direction. It would hamstring Collins and Gottlieb in their efforts to protect and improve the lives of Americans and represents a major impediment to bipartisan opportunities to build on the momentum and execute the programs created through Cures Act and the current reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act. At best, the proposed budget suggests that the White House doesn’t understand how the NIH and the FDA function. At worst, it suggests a disregard for the millions of patients who are desperate for the scientific innovations, lifesaving therapies, and safeguards that emerge from these agencies. Cutting the NIH by the magnitude currently proposed — a staggering $6 billion — would cripple the incredible scientific momentum the health care community has been enjoying.
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