Thursday, May 17, 2012

Congressional Committee Rejects Requested Increase for GWI Treatment Research Funding

Written by Anthony Hardie,

( - In a turn highly disappointing to Gulf War veterans, the Congressional committee responsible for recommending funding today rejected a much needed increase in the treatment focused Gulf War Illness (GWI) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).

Earlier this year, veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness and their advocates worked hard to secure a record-breaking 65 cosigners to a joint "Dear Colleague" request letter to Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Led by outgoing Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.) and Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), the 60 Democratic minority party members cosigning the "Dear Colleague" letter separately requested an increase in funding of the program from last year's $10 million level to $25 million.  The five majority party Republican cosigners requested general support for the program.

However, the bill passed today by the full House Appropriations Committee today rejected that requested funding increase, which according to advocates for the program would go primarily towards funding critically important inter-institutional consortia funded for development with earlier program funding.

The three consortia currently in development focus on comprehensive interdisciplinary approaches to identifying effective treatments for the disease that, according to a far reaching report issued two years ago by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, affects more than one in three veterans of the 1991 Gulf War as well as other U.S. forces.  Without the requested increase in funding, these new and important efforts are unlikely to be able to proceed.

Other CDMRP programs fared differently.

Eight of the medical research programs were recommended for increases over FY12 funding, ranging from a three percent ($0.3 million) increase for lung cancer research, recommended for funding at $10.5 million, to a 56 percent ($5.4 million) for spinal cord research, recommended for funding at $15 million.  Other programs recommended for increased funding were:  tuberous sclerosis ($0.9 increase to $6 million); autism ($0.9 million increase to $6 million); ALS ($1.1 million increase to $7.5 million); multiple sclerosis ($1.2 million increase to $5 million); cancer ($2.2 million increase to $15 million); and ovarian cancer ($4 million increase to $20 million).

Nine medical research programs in the CDMRP portfolio, including the GWI program, were recommended for  the same level of funding as last year.  They are:  Bone Marrow Failure Disease ($3.2 million); Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy ($3.2 million); Global HIV/AIDS prevention ($8 million); Alzheimers ($12 million); Orthopedic research ($30 million); Joint Warfighter medical research ($50 million); prostate cancer ($80 million).

Faring worse among the CDMRPs were two programs recommended for funding decreases and three recommended for elimination.  A $10.5 million cut was recommended for the Peer-Reviewed Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health Research program, along with an 11 percent cut recommended for the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Disorders Research Program.  Recommended for elimination were peer reviewed research programs for hemorrhage control, restorative transplantation, and a $50 million catch-all known as the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP).

The Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Appropriations bill, which was adopted by the Committee on a voice vote, now awaits consideration by the full U.S. House of Representatives.  Amendments made from the floor by House Members are possible.

A parallel defense appropriations bill is expected in the Senate as early as this month.  A Senate "Dear Colleague" effort, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) garnered ten cosigners, all members of the Democratic majority.



For text of the bill and report, please visit:

For a summary of the legislation, please visit:

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