May 2008

FDA Commissioner Calls for Immediate Funding to Modernize Agency

FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach submitted a letter to the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee on May 5 calling for $275 million dollars in immediate supplementary funding for the FDA.  The letter came in response to a May 1 request from the Subcommittee’s Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-PA) asking for Dr. von Eschenbach’s professional assessment of the Agency’s budget status.

The funding was approved by the Senate as part of a FY 2008 Emergency Supplemental bill shortly after the letter was received. The bill provides resources for activities related to the Iraq War in addition to some domestic programs through September 2009. The House of Representative is expected to consider this bill by the middle of June. If the bill is enacted, the $275 million would be focused on increasing food protection, the safety of FDA-regulated medical products, and modernizing the Agency’s scientific workforce.

The strategy outlined by Dr. von Eschenbach devotes a large portion of these funds to improving and widening the scale of food, drug, and device inspections. However, $50 million would be invested in enhancing the Agency’s science capacity, coordination, and leadership.   With the wave of recent advances in emerging fields such as genomics and proteomics, cell and gene therapies, and nanotechnology, the funding will create support systems for these sciences to flourish within the FDA enabling progressive and responsible regulation of new treatments.

Read the full letter here.

ACT-AD Chairman Presents at Dialogue on Diversity Health Care Symposium

On May 14, 2008 ACT-AD Chairman Daniel Perry participated in Dialogue on Diversity’s 2008 Health Care Symposium titled If It’s Broke, Can we Fix It?

Mr. Perry spoke about the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on women, African-Americans, and Latinos, and highlighted the work ACT-AD is doing to speed the delivery of better treatments and potential cures to all patients.  He also focused his remarks on the need for research into how Alzheimer’s affects various demographics in addition to risk factors that make certain populations more likely to develop this disease.

View full presentation here.

Senate Committee Examines the Future of Alzheimer’s Disease

Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) convened a hearing on May 14 to explore the future of Alzheimer’s disease. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were among those who testified before the Committee on challenges facing the country as the number of Alzheimer’s diagnoses continues to increase.

Justice O’Connor’s remarks focused on her personal experience caring for her husband John, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and the need for a transformation in the thinking about how the country approaches the AD epidemic.  O’Connor testified that “we must resolve, by our swift action, that the current generation of people with Alzheimer’s will be the last generation that we lose to this miserable disease.”  O’Connor stepped down from the court in 2006 to move her husband to an assisted care facility inArizonaand continue to care for him.

Former Speaker Gingrich, co-chair of the Alzheimer’s Study Group, focused his testimony on the past, present and future of Alzheimer’s disease in America.  The aging of the baby boomer generation, Gingrich said, will increase the prevalence of Alzheimer’s to an alarming level that theUSis not prepared to handle.  Gingrich stressed the need for an overarching strategy supported by the federal government to address Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Study Group is expected to release a comprehensive report focused on five key objectives in early 2009.  These objectives include: encouraging collaboration among Alzheimer’s researchers; improving Alzheimer’s clinical trials; ‘rapid learning’ from electronic datasets; integrating a community-based care model; and providing better information to policymakers.