The NCI will face some of the difficulties related to insurance coverage that discourage clinical trial participants as the institute ratchets up its prostate cancer research program. NCI director Richard Klausner, MD, told Congress in June that the NCI could increase prostate cancer research dollars from $114.5 million in fiscal year 1999 to $340 million in fiscal 2003. In past appropriations bills, Congress told the NCI to get the lead out on prostate cancer.
On June 16, Klausner presented to the Senate appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education and related agencies the Planning for Prostate Cancer Research report, which explains how much more aggressive the NCI can be if Congress appropriates the necessary funds. Klausner said that the NCIs goal is to increase the number of patients participating in early clinical trials by two- to threefold and to initiate 10 to 15 new trials. He added, &ldots;.This year through NCIs Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, we will initiate approximately 35 new phase I/II trials in prostate cancer with agents directed against a number of particularly promising molecular targets and mechanisms.
Last April, Michael J. Manyak, MD, acting chairman of the Department of Urology at George Washington University Medical Center, told a House committee that the National Prostate Cancer Coalition wanted to see National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for prostate cancer at $240 million in fiscal 2000. Actually, budget documents presented by Klausner to the Senate show that the NIH would actually spend $260 million, based on the total amount that the NIH expects to get from Congress.
Scott Reid, manager of government relations for the American Urological Association (AUA), says he is amazed at the increases in funding for prostate cancer research planned by the NCI and NIH over the next 5 years. When I looked at the table in Klausners testimony, those numbers leapt off the page, he states. The AUA would also like to see higher funding for bladder and kidney cancer. Manyak asked that the NCI work out a comprehensive plan with the urology community on those cancers and take it to Congress as the basis for funding increases.