NEW YORK, NY, March 20, 2017 – Treatment Action Group (TAG) releases this statement in strong opposition to the President’s 2018 budget blueprint. The blueprint threatens research essential to ending the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the United States and globally by cutting funding and eliminating programs. Massive and disruptive cuts to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) research budget and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulatory capacity will set back years of investment in public health and scientific research in the effort to eliminate these diseases.
Ending these epidemics starts with science. With an unprecedented projected 20% cut to NIH funding, this budget could cripple the research strategy that has brought groundbreaking treatment and prevention to millions affected by HIV/AIDS, TB, and HCV. Without a robust, well-funded NIH, we set back progress in science made across disease areas, including promising vaccine and cure research. The proposed $6 billion cut to the NIH and blueprint language calling for the reorganization of the agency’s centers pits research needs against each other in an increasingly resource-scarce environment. By proposing to eliminate the Fogarty International Center entirely, the administration has shown how little it values or understands research on global threats like HIV/AIDS, TB, and neglected diseases that also affect health and the economy in the United States.
These proposed cuts to NIH funding will reverse the research funding boost promised through the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act late last year. Instead, as research funding drops, efforts to deregulate product development at the FDA will complicate access to safe drugs and devices. Vague budget blueprint language calls for regulatory efficiency through a “package” of administrative actions. We reject any actions that weaken the review process of the FDA, and we call for a lifting of the federal hiring freeze to strengthen the capacity of the agency to continue its transparent, timely, world-leading drug and device approval process.
We stand with our partners at Health GAP in acknowledging the administration’s continued commitments to PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and the Gavi Alliance, and echo the call for additional funding for these programs to support expanded access to treatment and prevention for the 19 million people still in need of treatment. The budget blueprint’s language on PEPFAR and the Global Fund omits mention of essential prevention programs. Multilateral and bilateral programs are needed to sustain valuable in-country public health infrastructures, which have been crucial in responding to infectious threats like Zika, Ebola, and drug-resistant TB.
We call on Congress to reject these cuts to critical NIH research and any reprogramming and reorganization that takes already limited funding away from HIV/AIDS, TB, HCV, and other neglected diseases, and compromises the role of the United States in leading the world in scientific research. We call for opposition to any weakening of the authority of the FDA. We urge critical community action to pressure policymakers to commit to ending the epidemics by:
- Contacting your legislator by calling the Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) to urge them to reject the President’s budget proposal for the NIH and FDA in FY 2018 and replace it with a budget that:
- Protects and expands NIH funding by $5 billion in FY 2018;
- Preserves the Fogarty International Center at its full budget of $70 million;
- Ensures that the FDA does not lose its authority to regulate safe and effective drugs and devices;
- Boosts funding to PEPFAR to $6 billion by 2020 and continues Global Fund commitments to meet treatment and prevention needs.
- Monitoring for updates on the President’s prospective budget. The fully detailed FY 2018 budget is expected in May 2017, and will provide further insight into proposed cuts and actions.
- Reading and sharing statements made by our allies and partners: