Proposed Budget Would Cut Cancer and Biomedical Research Funding

The Trump administration’s proposed budget for 2018 includes nearly $6 billion in budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – an approximate 20 percent loss. Further reductions in funding include $15.1 billion from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 21st Century Cures Act, a bipartisan bill that would speed up the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process and provide more funding for the Cancer Moonshot initiative and Precision Medicine Initiative, also will see a decrease in federal support.

Medical associations have expressed concern about the decreased funding and its effect on vital biomedical research for cancer and other diseases. Earlier this year, the American Society of Hematology (ASH) called for an increase in NIH funding. In a statement responding to the proposed budget, ASH President Kenneth C. Anderson, MD, criticized the proposal, calling on the White House to recognize the value of the NIH and biomedical research:

“President Trump’s proposal to slash NIH’s fiscal year 2018 budget by nearly 20 percent is not what our country needs to remain healthy and competitive. As NIH is the largest funder of biomedical research, robust federal investment in and by the agency has led to innovative bench-to-beside 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 cancer. … Investments in both [nondefense and defense programs] are necessary for sustainable, predictable funding that will fuel economic growth, reduce future health-care costs, and ensure that the United States remains competitive, safe, and secure.”

The proposed budget includes several other notable changes for health-care research, including eliminating the Fogarty International Center, cutting guaranteed funding for community health centers and safety-net providers who provide health care to low-income populations, and increasing funding for opioid misuse prevention by $500 million.

Source: American Journal of Managed Care, March 16, 2017; The Washington Post, March, 16, 2017; American Society of Hematology press release, March 16, 2017.