“Congress passed a multi-year renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), ensuring that studies on promising diabetes treatments and avenues toward a cure continue uninterrupted. As the father of a son living with type 1 diabetes, and as CEO of JDRF, one of the leading advocates for the renewal of this program, I applaud the U.S. government for its continued commitment to end this disease.
At a time when the incidence of diabetes, both type 1 and 2, is rising and when a CDC modeling study predicts that one in three Americans will be living with diabetes by the year 2050, our nation cannot afford to falter in its support for research that will help to lessen and ultimately eliminate the burden of diabetes from our healthcare system.
We have made progress toward better treatments. We have also made progress toward a cure. But we’re not there yet. Advancing science takes time, and breakthroughs are unpredictable. We at JDRF are trying to accelerate the process by identifying and filling gaps to help bring products to patients as quickly and safely as possible by providing significant funding and direction to type 1 diabetes research. But we can’t do it alone. And this is why we are excited to see the U.S. government renew its commitment to diabetes research today. The combination of federal diabetes research funding and private investments through JDRF has created one of the most effective public-private partnerships focused on disease research.
The SDP is unique because it supplements annually-appropriated NIH-research funding with a mandatory funding stream for type 1 diabetes research. Currently, the SDP represents 35 percent of all the federal research on type 1 diabetes. Since its establishment in 1997, the program has produced tangible scientific and clinical results, and real returns on the federal investment in type 1 diabetes research.
An example of an advance, funded both by the SDP and JDRF, was announced earlier this year when results from a clinical trial conducted by The National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (DRCR.net) showed that a drug (known as Lucentis), when combined with the current standard treatment of laser therapy, is more effective than the current medical treatment in treating diabetic eye disease for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The pivotal data showed that after one year, nearly half of the patients in the trial treated with drug and laser therapy improved their vision by at least two lines on a standard eye chart, concluding that the drug when combined with the current standard treatment of laser therapy, improved vision significantly. This is really good news for those with diabetes and for the productivity of our workforce as a whole, as diabetic eye disease is the most common cause of visual loss in working age Americans.
Also, both the SDP and JDRF have provided significant support for the development of an artificial pancreas – a closed-loop system that will enable a person with diabetes to maintain normal glucose levels by providing the right amount of insulin at the right time, just as the pancreas does in individuals without diabetes. Tests have been conducted successfully in a hospital environment. The next step is for these devices to be tested in outpatient settings.
Congress’ action today marks the fifth time the SDP has been renewed, committing $150 million annually for the two years of the program. Its renewal will allow us to continue and build on the program’s advances to date by translating those discoveries into treatments and eventually cures for people with diabetes.
Thanks to the strong, ongoing bipartisan support of Congress, the SDP is making a real difference. We also thank the Members of Congress who have championed this program and recognize the importance of accelerating research efforts to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. And, a special thanks to our volunteers who have shared their stories about the toll that diabetes has on their families, and encouraged their Members of Congress to take action.
Together we can help to improve the lives of those living with type 1 diabetes and eventually eliminate the disease once and for all.”