The Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN), like many other disease-focused organizations, is concerned about the lack of therapies that reach the stage of clinical testing and the even smaller number of therapies that ultimately are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and made publicly available.
Need for the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN)
PAN reviewed the drug development pipeline from the most basic research conducted at academic research centers and supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) all the way through the process to the large scale Phase III clinical trials conducted by pharmaceutical companies. This review led us to conclude that greater outcomes could be achieved by establishing a better system of supporting NIH funded translational research with the goal of shepherding viable therapies between the points of discovery and where the private sector generally assumes responsibility.
For several years PAN, along with others interested in improved therapies and cures, has called for the federal government to do more to bridge the scientific “Valley of Death,” a term used to describe the point in the drug development pipeline where many discoveries languish. The Valley of Death prevents promising research from moving forward, stopping cold the research needed to pursue the therapies, drugs, and cures of tomorrow. With an average time of 15-20 years for the development of new therapies and drugs, it is unacceptable that this research simply sits idle as needless time goes by, all the while people who need the breakthrough drugs and therapies of tomorrow sit by and wait.
Enactment of the CAN Act
In March 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law and established a Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) at NIH. Before it can be implemented, CAN must be funded by Congress.
Once funded and implemented, the CAN program will be overseen by a Board of 24 diverse members from several fields, including research, FDA, venture capital, and patient advocacy. In addition, CAN will work with the FDA to coordinate approval requirements with the goal of expediting the development and approval of products. The legislation authorizes up to $500 million for CAN for the upcoming years. For additional details about NIH funding for CAN and other programs, see here .
Advocacy for CAN Funding and Implementation
Through the hard work of our dedicated advocates and coalition partners, CAN was funded at a level of $10 million for FY2012. PAN continues to monitor the implementation of this important program, which will be housed within NIH’s new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. 
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