Bill Would Boost Cancer Study Funds
Feb. 27, 2002
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WASHINGTON (AP) _ A year after being diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer, Phylecia Wilson sees herself as ``the cancer patient of the future.''
Wilson, a grandmother from Snellville, Ga., benefited from a clinical trial of a new ``smart bomb'' that attacks cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched, with only mild side effects. Without the treatment, she said Wednesday on Capitol Hill, ``I most likely would not be with you today.''
Wilson is among the 5 percent of adults who take part in clinical trials.
Increasing the number of cancer survivors like Wilson is at the heart of legislation authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to update the war on cancer that President Nixon declared 31 years ago.
Feinstein's bill has the support of the other 12 women in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, a Republican and prostate cancer survivor.
Dole, who left the Senate in 1996, noted he was the only speaker Wednesday who had voted for 1971 legislation that provided $1.6 billion to expand the federal government's cancer research effort.
There has been no comprehensive cancer legislation since then, Feinstein said, despite advances in drugs and genetics.
``We didn't know about these drugs when the cancer act was written,'' said Feinstein, whose second husband, Bertram Feinstein, died of colon cancer. ``We need a new battle plan to fight cancer.''
Her legislation would offer more grants to drug companies to encourage them to get cancer treatments to clinical trials faster. It would increase funding for basic research at a cost of $1.4 billion in its first year.
Insurers would be required to pay routine medical costs associated with trials and to cover a greater range of screening for cancers, especially colon and rectal cancer.
The National Cancer Legislation Advisory Committee, a group of cancer experts, developed many provisions of the legislation.
Feinstein said she hopes to take advantage of the more than $500 million increase in cancer research included in President Bush's budget proposal for next year.
The bill also would give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco. Thirty percent of cancer deaths _ 165,000 people a year _ result from smoking, Feinstein said.
On the Net:
Cancer legislation committee report: http://www.cancersource.com