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Health & Human Services: Budgets For NIH, CDC, And FDA Grow

by Britt E. Erickson
February 3, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 5

The National Institutes of Health, the primary R&D component of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), will receive a total of $30.2 billion in fiscal 2014. This budget is up 3.5% compared with 2013 postsequester funding levels.

Advocates for biomedical research welcome the increase, saying it provides some relief to the 5.1% across-the-board cuts NIH received last year when sequestration went into effect. However, they point out, the 2014 budget for NIH is still less than its 2012 budget of $30.9 billion.

The increase will be equally distributed among NIH’s 27 institutes and centers, each of which will receive about 3.5% more compared with 2013 postsequester levels, with two exceptions. The National Institute on Aging will see its budget rise to $1.2 billion, an increase of 12.6% compared with 2013 post sequestration. The additional funds will be used to support research on Alzheimer’s disease and grants associated with the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative.

NIH’s newest center, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), which is focused on improving the drug development process, will also receive a hefty funding increase. NCATS will get a total of $633 million, an increase of 16.8% compared with 2013 postsequester funding. The increase reflects the consolidation of the Clinical & Translational Science Awards into NCATS. Funding for the awards was previously provided by other NIH institutes and centers. The increase also reflects the movement of programs from NIH’s Common Fund to NCATS. The Common Fund supports programs that cut across various NIH centers and institutes.

Despite giving translational sciences a boost this year, Congress also directs NIH to continue to make basic biomedical research a key component of the agency’s research portfolio. With the increased funding, NIH will be able to fund 385 more research grants than it did in 2013.

Concerns about the potential for misuse of biomedical data associated with NIH’s “big data” initiative have prompted lawmakers to question how NIH will ensure such data remain anonymous. Specifically, the appropriations law requires NIH to provide Congress with a report describing its policies and procedures for safeguarding biomedical data within 180 days of enactment of the 2014 appropriations bill.

Lawmakers also are directing NIH to work more closely with other HHS agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Food & Drug Administration, to disseminate research results and to identify scientific gaps in the understanding of diseases and their prevention.

CDC will receive $6.8 billion in fiscal 2014, an increase of 8.9% compared with 2013 post sequester. Despite the increase, CDC’s budget for 2014 is $17 million less than it was in 2012.

A large part of CDC’s 2014 budget, or $1.3 billion, is slated for emergency preparedness and response activities designed to protect the U.S. from intentional and naturally occurring health threats. Another $1.2 billion will go toward chronic disease prevention and health promotion.

CDC will also receive $30 million for its Advanced Molecular Detection initiative, which aims to identify potential disease outbreaks more rapidly and more accurately. Congress has singled out Lyme disease as one area in need of more sensitive and accurate diagnostic tests. Lawmakers are encouraging CDC to expand its activities related to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, including improving surveillance and evaluating the feasibility of a national reporting system.

FDA will receive a total of $4.3 billion in 2014, of which $1.8 billion is from industry-paid user fees. That total is $315 million, or 7.8%, more than FDA received in 2013 post sequestration.

Of the $2.5 billion in taxpayer-funded resources allocated to FDA for 2014, $883 million will go toward the agency’s food program, $466 million toward drugs, $321 toward medical devices, $142 million toward animal drugs and feed, and the remaining funds will be spent on toxicological research and other activities.

In the omnibus legislation, lawmakers direct FDA to use at least $25 million for the agency’s Medical Countermeasures initiative. That effort aims to ensure that drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tests are available to protect the U.S. from chemical, biological, nuclear, and emerging disease threats. Congress also calls on FDA to implement a comprehensive training program for food safety inspectors so that they are up to speed with the requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Because of FDA’s increasing efforts related to understanding the safety of nano­scale materials, lawmakers are encouraging the Environmental Protection Agency to work with FDA to further study the environmental, health, and safety aspects of nanotechnology-based products.



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