More MS news articles for April 2002

Cuts by Swift gut funding for medical researchers

Tuesday, April 9, 2002
by Michael Lasalandra

Funding for research, education and services for a variety of diseases, including breast and prostate cancers, would be cut by 65 percent next year under acting Gov. Jane Swift's proposed budget, public health officials said yesterday.

"We're still in the process of deciding the percentage of the reductions for each of the programs, but it is safe to say that each of the programs will have to be cut," said Roseann Pawelec, Department of Public Health spokeswoman.

Diseases covered by the programs, in addition to breast and prostate cancers, include osteoporosis, colorectal cancer, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, kidney disease and neurofibromatosis.

Since 1992, the breast cancer program has included money to fund grants to young researchers studying the disease, with $2.75 million awarded last year.

Each of the disease programs had its own budget line item in the past, but for fiscal 2003, they will be lumped together, Pawelec said.

The idea of making any cuts for breast cancer research was blasted yesterday by activists and researchers at an event sponsored by Lois Pines, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.

Last year, breast cancer received $9.4 million from the state, including the research money.

"This program is simply too important to be cut," said Pines, who pushed for the funding nine years ago when in the Legislature.

"It's not just a health care issue, it's an economic issue too," said Pines, who noted that the DPH grants actually help the researchers pull in additional money.

Pines said she knows of $43 million in outside grants that stemmed from the DPH grants, which have totalled $19.5 million since the program's inception.

Pawelec said that in fiscal 2002 the DPH provided $17 million for all the disease programs.

But she said the amount of state money for breast cancer research has been paltry compared to the amount of funding provided by the federal government for the disease. Last year, federal funding for breast cancer hit $874 million.

© Copyright by the Boston Herald