Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Includes Increase for NIH, Funding for CAN

Note:  On February 15, PAN sent an Action Alert urging members of the Parkinson’s community to contact their Members of Congress to vote “No” on a funding bill for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011.  That alert should not be confused with this article, which deals with the President’s proposed funding for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins this October.
On February 14, 2011, President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012.  This budget outlines the President’s priorities for the federal government.  Keep in mind that the President’s budget is a suggestion to Congress; Congress votes later in the year on the actual funding for the government.  But the President’s budget certainly helps establish the tone for the federal budget debate.
The good news for the Parkinson’s community is that President Obama’s budget would invest in key areas of medical research and therapy development.  The President’s budget maintains the federal government’s investment in research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funding the NIH at $31.8 billion.  While this is not as much of an increase as is needed, it would constitute an increase of 3.4% for NIH.  The President further directs the NIH to focus on the types of research that will lead to new clinical trials and the development of new therapies, including proposed funding of $100 million for the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN).  As you know, PAN has been a leading voice in support of CAN.
The President keeps funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relatively constant and proposes to collect more user fees in order to speed up the general drug approval process to get safe, effective drugs to patients.
On the whole, this is good news for Parkinson’s programs in the President’s budget – especially in a very difficult year where hundreds of other programs are facing large cuts.