Posted on March 10, 2011 by Sitemaster
Senator John McCain is a man who has been treated successfully not once, not twice, but three times for malignant melanoma.
You would think he would have some sympathy with the idea that cancer
research needs to be well funded — even in difficult economic times.
Apparently that is not his opinion.
In comments yesterday on the floor of the Senate, during discussions about the Continuing Resolutions Act, he spoke as follows:
aspects of the Defense Appropriations bill that need to be taken away,
eliminated, are $300 million for medical research. I am sure the medical
research is important, but it has nothing to do with national defense.
Within that $300 million is $15 million for peer-reviewed Alzheimer’s
research, $150 million for peer-reviewed breast cancer research, $12.8
million for peer-reviewed lung cancer research, $20 million for
peer-reviewed ovarian cancer research, $80 million for peer-reviewed
prostate cancer research, and … — all of which are worthy causes, but
none have anything to do with defending this country. If they want them
to be funded — and they deserve to be in many respects — they should
come out of the Health and Human Services Appropriations, not out of
Now we would like to be very clear that if the cancer research initiatives currently funded through the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program
(CDMRP) could be in some way transferred to the National Cancer
Institute, and if they could continue to be funded and implemented in
the way that they currently are, we would have no problem with the good
Unfortunately, however, that is by no means what he is suggesting.
What he is suggesting is that we simply cut the programs out of the DoD
budget in their entirety and then start again by trying to get them
refunded through the Department of Health and Human Services — which is a
The loss of the Prostate Cancer Research Program
of the CDMRP would be a disaster for the prostate cancer community.
This program has been at the very heart of bringing us more knowledge
and more new drugs for late stage prostate cancer than any other
research funding initiative over the past decade. It is the single
largest source of government research dollars specifically dedicated to
In the grand scheme of the DoD budget, $300 million a year is
peanuts, as Senator McCain well knows. Earlier this year, Secretary
Gates laid out a plan to reduce the DoD budget by $78 billion
over the next 5 years. We are also spending massive amounts of money on
initiatives in Afghanistan and Iraq for which Senator McCain has been a
key “booster” in Congress. Secretary Gates never made any suggestion
that cutting the CDMRP even entered his radar screen by comparison with
all of the other cuts that he was more than willing to make.
Earlier today some of us heard Samuel Ward (“Trip”) Casscells, III, MD,
a former assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and a member
of the Board of Directors of the Prostate Cancer Foundation tell us in
no uncertain terms (a) why the CDMRP was a key military mission that
supported our soldiers and (b) why the Prostate Cancer Research Program
needed our full support. Now it is true that Trip is potentially biased,
since he is a prostate cancer patient himself, but he also pointed out
that some of our most reknowned military leaders of the past few years
(General Norman Schwarzkopf, General Colin Powell, and the currently
still serving General David Petraeus) are also all prostate cancer
Trip Casscells is undoubtedly going to be calling his acquaintances
in Congress. And if you want us to be able to maintain the continuing
level of progress against prostate cancer that we have achieved over the
past 5 years, you need to call your Congressmen and Congresswomen too.
They need to get a very clear message from every prostate cancer
patient, advocate, and researcher:
not, under any circumstances, eliminate funding for the DoD
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program or its key prostate
cancer initiatives funded through the Prostate Cancer Research Program.
It’s a simple enough message, so pick up your phone and make three
calls: one to your representative in the House of Representatives and
another two to each of your representatives in the Senate. And if you
want to throw in a fourth call to the office of Senator McCain, his
number is 202-224-2235. Ask for his health policy staff member.