Bay Ridge

Donovan meets with cancer research advocates

October 7, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, who met with cancer refunding advocates at his Washington D.C. office, co-sponsored a bill to increase funding. Photo courtesy of Donovan’s office

U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan met with cancer research advocates visiting Washington D.C. from Brooklyn and Staten Island as part of the American Cancer Society’s Leadership and Advocacy Day and called on the Senate to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation that would increase cancer research funding.

The bill, which the House passed in July, would provide $1.8 billion in funding each year for several years to the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The legislation would also offer researchers new incentives for developing treatments for diseases, including cancer, and would modernize clinical trial procedures to produce faster results, according to Donovan (R-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island), who is a co-sponsor.

“If it becomes law, this bill would enact reforms to further our understanding of deadly diseases and develop treatments for illnesses that currently lack effective therapies,” Donovan said. “There are 10,000 known diseases, but there are cures for only 500 of them. Our great country has made tremendous scientific advancements in just the past few decades. Let’s double down on that progress and work to rid humanity of some of its deadliest ailments.” 

The advocates who visited Donovan, including Tottenville Civic Association President James Pistilli, delivered petitions from hundreds of local residents calling on Congress to allocate additional resources to disease research.

“We would like to thank Congressman Donovan for co-sponsoring the 21st Century Cures Act, and we look forward to the Senate passing its version to provide the funds necessary to continue vital research for cancer and other chronic diseases,” Pistilli said.

Donovan said grassroots pressure could sway the Senate, which has not yet acted on the bill.

“Its grassroots support like this that helps move important legislation through Congress. I look forward to continuing to partner with my colleagues to ensure medical research receives the attention it deserves. I hope the Senate takes up this cause quickly,” he said.

The 21st Century Cures Act is not without controversy, however. Opponents charge that streamlining the drug testing approval process could lead to a lowering of standards that would result in dangerous drugs being put on the market. In a guest column on the Health News Review website on Aug. 4, journalist Trudy Liebermann wrote that the legislation, “weakens what some believe are already weak standards.” Under the provisions of the bill, the $1.8 billion in funding would be appropriated for each of fiscal years from 2016 through 2020. Donovan’s office noted that the congressman’s aunt recently died after a battle with cancer.