WASHINGTON, DC – March 13, 2013 – The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) calls for Congressional budget action to sustain the nation’s biomedical research enterprise at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Speaking on behalf of the lupus community throughout the country, the LRI testified before the Fiscal 2014 Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Public Witness Hearing. The Hearing is being held as the first phase of sequestration to federally funded programs is underway, with anticipated cuts of $1.6 billion to NIH budgets.
Renowned rheumatologist and lupus expert Dr. Richard Furie of New York’s North Shore-LIJ Health System represented the LRI, providing both written and oral testimony. He pointed to the critical need to provide safe and effective treatments to the millions suffering with the devastating autoimmune disease lupus and emphasized the implications of research into lupus as the prototype for the 100+ autoimmune diseases affecting one out of every five Americans.
Lupus a Devastating Disease Affecting 1.5 Million Americans
To foster an appreciation for the magnitude of suffering that lupus brings, Dr. Furie asked the Subcommittee to imagine a disease with no known cause or cure that is a leading cause of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease among young women. He went on to describe lupus as a disease that strikes without warning, strikes at random, attacking the brain, heart, lungs, or blood — virtually any human organ and tissue.
“During the course of my career, approximately 100 of my lupus patients have died, and countless have had strokes or have gone on to kidney failure and required dialysis,” Dr. Furie commented. “I could fill the entire day with heartbreaking stories. Our goal is to cure this disease so there are no more stories.”
Importance of NIH Research Funding
Dr. Furie highlighted the value of a strong, vibrant biomedical research enterprise fueled and led by the NIH. “Clearly, tomorrow’s advances in lupus and other autoimmune diseases depend on today’s investments in NIH research. Sustained, dependable, long-term growth in NIH-funded medical research brings the promise of new knowledge and technologies in pursuit of cures for patients. The NIH mission is critical, as is its support in maintaining our global leadership in biomedical research and development. The fiscal climate of the past few years has threatened the stability of the biomedical research enterprise.”
The LRI petitions for $30 billion in Fiscal 2014 appropriations, representing a modest increase of 2.7 percent to allow the NIH to continue to innovate in areas of exceptional promise with the potential to save lives and reduce the burden of disease.
“We respectfully urge Congress and the Administration to work together on a solution that addresses the nation’s fiscal needs while preserving the national investment in biomedical research and the health of the American people,” concluded Dr. Furie.
President and CEO of the Lupus Research Institute Margaret Dowd commented, “Affecting 1.5 million Americans, lupus poses a serious public health and women’s health issue. People with lupus waited 50 years for just one new treatment and support for research is essential to ensure they don’t have to wait another half century for the next sorely needed breakthrough.”