Dispatches from the Hill: The Prostate Cancer Research Program’s $90M at Work

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Mr. Jamie Bearse is the CEO of ZERO — The End of Prostate Cancer. ZERO is a United States-based nonprofit with a mission to end prostate cancer.

In his second quarterly column for Prostatepedia, he updates us on American policies impacting prostate cancer patients.

Not a member? Join us.

In my last column, I shared news about our annual fly-in day, the ZERO Prostate Cancer Summit, and the major research funding victory on Capitol Hill for prostate cancer advocates. Congress had just earmarked $90 million for the Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) in the FY17 budget as part of the Defense Appropriations Bill – a $10M increase over last year. This is the program’s first funding increase in more than a decade.

So, what does this funding upgrade mean for prostate cancer patients? More research and innovation directed at a cure? Yes. The additional $10M will fund several additional projects; new research that could lead to more treatments and save lives.

The Department of Defense’s (DoD) medical research programs are an epicenter for groundbreaking research. In the last six years, the Prostate Cancer Research Program has awarded grants that have led to three new, life-extending treatments: ZYTIGA (abiraterone acetate), Xtandi (enzalutamide), and XGEVA (denosumab), as well as a genetic diagnosis profile to determine aggressive disease. The program has awarded more than 50 prostate cancer research grants in the last year alone.

In addition to funding critical research, the DoD program created a peer-review model, which brings patients into the R&D process, helping choose which ideas to fund. The program also created the Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium (PCCTC), collaboration between several top cancer centers in the U.S. The Consortium creates a knowledge center and makes conducting clinical trials more efficient and cost-effective, speeding up the pipeline for potential therapies. As a result of these programs, treatments for prostate cancer are no longer isolated to a laboratory, but instead are created with feedback from the prostate cancer community.

The outlook for continued funding of the DoD’s PCRP is positive. Just prior to the July 4th recess, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY18 Defense Appropriations Bill, which preserves the $90M annually for prostate cancer research. This is a step in the right direction thanks to the dedication of prostate cancer advocates and champions in Congress.

ZERO will fight every year to ensure that this critical research funding remains in the DoD’s budget. The PCRP has a clear impact on prostate cancer, and thanks to the increased funding, we’re one step closer to a much-needed cure. I hope that you’ll join us to advocate for the PCRP and similar programs to help end prostate cancer.

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