Trump's Budget and Cancer


It has always been clear to me that there is a cure for cancer. It is called money.

It has always been clear to me that there is a cure for cancer. It is called money.

The research and time involved in bringing a new approach or drug to market can be more than a decade, and the money it takes for all the steps is what we see on our bill from the pharmacists. Yes, I think some of the pharmaceutical companies are charging absurd prices, but it’s the mutants who run the drug companies who are the baddies, not the researchers who spend their days in dark labs staring into microscopes as they try to find the magic bullet to kill cancer.

But if Trump has his way and passes his proposed 2017 budget, I think some of the biggest losers will be us, cancer survivors — oh and the thousands diagnosed while the plan is being argued and the millions to be diagnosed in the decades to come.

The budget, if it passes, will cut nearly $6 billion from the National Institutes of Health, a funding agency for the hundreds of hospitals and research facilities trying to find new treatments to impact cancer. This is in direct opposition to prior years when the allocations increased with voices asking for even more to fulfill vice president Joe Biden’s cancer Moonshot initiative and other biomedical efforts.

Paul McGee, managing director of field communications for the American Cancer Society, said in a tweet, “From cancer moonshot to crater in the stroke of a pen.” The 21st Century Cures Act, passed last year, authorized $1.8 billion for the Moonshot effort over seven years. The first $300 million had already been allocated.

I have been researching what the cancer pros say about the plan: Here are a few of their comments:

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle receives significant funds from the government for cancer research. With three Nobel Prize winners, Hutch also has the Cancer Prevention program, which has made key contributions in understanding how diet, exercise and other factors influence acquiring cancer. They have produced Nobel prize-winning work on bone marrow transplantation and innovative treatments for leukemia and other blood cancers. They are working on immunotherapy in combination with conventional drugs to produce fewer side effects and are the first researchers to use a melanoma patient’s cloned T cells as the sole treatment to put cancer into long term remission.

Immunotherapy researcher Stan Riddell says the cut in funds in the new budget stops the development of new therapies and curtails the training of the next generation of scientists.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute chief scientific officer Dr. Barrett Rollins calls the cuts a slow-motion disaster.

The president of American Society of Hematology, Dr. Kenneth Anderson, says, “The NIH is the largest funder of biomedical research, robust federal investment in and by the agency has let to innovative bench-to-bedside discoveries that have resulted in paradigm-shifting advances in blood disease treatment and cures—from interventions that prevent stroke in young children with sickle cell disease to methods of engineering our own immune cells to attack tumors and beat cancers. . .“

He points out that billions of dollars in biomedical research and funding are under threat — with basic science to be the first on the chopping block.

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