Jan. 17, 2014

The Consolidated Appropriations Bill Provides Significant Funding for Vital Lupus Programs

The Lupus Foundation of America applauds Congress for enacting the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, H.R. 3547 which provides funding for vital lupus research and education programs.  While the legislation provides good news for the fight against lupus, the omnibus bill only partially restores National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds that were previously cut from federal budgets through the automatic spending reductions known as sequestration.  The Lupus Foundation of America remains committed to ensuring important federal lupus research and programs are fully funded and will continue to speak out on the urgent needs of the 1.5 million Americans who live with this unpredictable and misunderstood disease. 

In 2003 at the urging of the Lupus Foundation of America and its national network of chapters and activists, Congress established the National Lupus Patient Registry (NLPR), the first comprehensive research study to assess the prevalence and incidence of lupus in the United States. Additionally, the Lupus Foundation of America was instrumental in having lupus included in the DOD Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program in 2005.  Both programs provide vital data to advance lupus research.

A summary of the Bill’s funding details related to lupus for Fiscal Year 2014 include:

  • The National Lupus Patient Registry at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will receive the largest appropriation in the program’s history…$5.5 million. Funds allocated to date for the program now exceed $30 million.
  • The Department of Defense’s (DOD) Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) budget will increase from $50 million to $200 million.  Lupus is one of 23 diseases and conditions included in the program.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be funded at $29.9 billion representing a $1 billion increase but this level is below Fiscal Year 2013 levels.
  • The Lupus Initiative, aimed at educating physicians and other health professionals about lupus, within the Office of Minority Health, will be funded at $2 million, a $1.2 million increase.

“While funding for NIH in this Bill is somewhat improved, the present level of research funding needed to address serious medical issues, like lupus, is insufficient and falls short of the expectations of the American people,”  said Sandra C. Raymond, President and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America.   

“Cuts in federal funding have had a very serious impact on academic medicine, causing talented investigators to leave the field and impeding research in lupus,” said Gary Gilkeson, M.D., Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development at the Medical University of South Carolina and Chair of the Lupus Foundation of America Medical-Scientific Advisory Council. “We are at a very critical time in lupus research and further investment in science is greatly needed to support the momentum that is building toward major advances in lupus.”

The Lupus Foundation of America also expresses its gratitude to our robust network of lupus activists who over the years have shared their personal stories of lupus with members of Congress on Capitol Hill and in their home districts, wrote letters and recently brought to Congress a petition signed by more than 30,000 individuals expressing their support for expanded lupus research funding.  

Action Alert

While we applaud Congress’ efforts to restore order and provide much-needed funding for lupus research, funding for biomedical research remains too low.  We urge you to write your elected officials today to thank them for passing the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 and encourage them to build on this momentum by providing future funding for biomedical research.

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