PROSTATE CANCER: Dole Lobbies Congress for More Funding
Former GOP presidential candidate and erectile dysfunction spokesperson Bob Dole yesterday urged an increase in the NIH's budget for prostate cancer research, joined by financier Michael Milken and New York Yankees manager Joe Torre. Testifying before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on health, Dole -- whose ED ads are sponsored by Viagra maker Pfizer Inc. -- said, "We are here to underscore the importance of research and the importance of reaching out for new technologies." Milken charged that the NIH "has neglected prostate cancer" by devoting less than 1% of the estimated $100 billion spent on treatment thus far toward finding a cure. The former junk bond king advocated a "cancer research bonds program, fashioned after the war bonds effort of World Wars I and II," and promised to buy $50 million of the bonds himself.
Follow the Money
The Omaha World-Herald reports that the federal government has devoted $800 million to finding a cure for prostate cancer over the last six years, compared to $3 billion for breast cancer research and $10 billion on HIV/AIDS -- yet prostate cancer and breast cancer claim roughly the same number of victims in America, and both diseases' death tolls far outstrip HIV/AIDS (6/17). CBS' John Roberts reported that in an example of what increased prostate cancer funding could bring, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Center have developed a modified cold virus that directly attacks prostate cancer cells. The NIH has proposed to more than double such funding over the next five years, but "in this climate of balanced budgets, the NIH may find it difficult to achieve that goal" ("Evening News," 6/16). Senate Appropriations Chair Ted Stevens (R-AK) said "Congress simply can't afford to increase NIH's overall budget because of the strict spending caps put in place" under the 1997 Balanced Budget Act (World-Herald, 6/17).