The next several weeks are a period of critical importance for the rare disease community in the U.S. If Congress isn’t able to reach agreement on a budget deficit reduction plan by January, across-the-board funding cuts of 8.2% will go into effect for FDA, NIH and other federal agencies. This would have devastating effects on the biomedical research enterprise.
The cuts would slash $2.5 billion in research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They would also negate many of the gains made in the recently enacted FDA Safety and Innovation Act, which was hailed by NORD and others in the rare disease community as the most important progress since the Orphan Drug Act of 1983.
The period between the elections and the start of a new Congress is sometimes referred to as a “lame duck session” of Congress, since some of those currently in the Senate and House won’t be returning in January. Historically, this has been a period of low activity when little significant action takes place in the Congress.
But this lame duck session MUST be different. If the 112th Congress fails to resolve the budget impasse to avoid draconian, across-the-board cuts, it will have done a great disservice to the rare disease community and all Americans.