Medical research institutions in the US have spoken out against president Donald Trump’s proposals to cut almost 20% of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The proposal, announced in the president’s first budget, aims to cut $5.8 billion from the NIH in a move which US researchers are calling ‘devastating’.
The NIH is the largest funder of biomedical research in the world and its position and effectiveness will be potentially disrupted due to the cuts.
Besides the cut in funding to the NIH, president Trump’s budget includes ‘a major reorganisation of NIH’s Institutes and Centres to help focus resources on the highest priority research and training activities.’
Trump also announced plans to increase FDA user fees and speed up the time it takes for the development of medical products. This follows a speech he made on Rare Disease Day, where he criticised the FDA’s ‘slow and burdensome approval process.’
In response to the budget cut, ASCO, a representative of health professionals in the US said: “We soundly oppose President Trump’s budget outline, which would cut $6 billion from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Reducing NIH’s funding by nearly 20 percent will devastate our nation’s already fragile federal research infrastructure and undercut a longstanding commitment to biomedical science that has fuelled advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.”
ASCO went on to state that the budget cut would place America behind other countries in scientific advances. It said: “Gutting the U.S. research infrastructure won’t make America First, but will decidedly place the United States behind other countries in scientific advances. Failure to nurture the historic U.S. investment in research places health outcomes, scientific leadership, and economic growth at risk.”
The American Society of Haematology (ASH) also responded to the cut, with president Kenneth C. Anderson, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute saying: “President Trump’s proposal to slash NIH’s FY2018 budget by nearly 20 percent is not what our country needs to remain healthy and competitive. As NIH is the largest funder of biomedical research, robust federal investment in and by the agency has led to innovative bench-to-beside discoveries that have resulted in paradigm-shifting advances in blood disease treatment and cures — from interventions that prevent stroke in young children with sickle cell disease to methods of engineering our own immune cells to attack tumours and beat cancer. In order to continue to make strides in conquering diseases, funding NIH at appropriate and sustainable levels must be a priority.”
It must be said that whilst the budget makes some worrying propositions, it is not yet final until the full budget becomes available in May.