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Bills on Breast Cancer Research, Down Syndrome Approved by Senate Committee

On February 27, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved, by voice vote, the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act (S. 579) and the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act (S. 1810).

Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act (S. 579)

Sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), S. 579 would authorize $40 million per year for FY2008-2012 for the creation of up to eight Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Centers of Excellence to study environmental factors that might cause breast cancer.

During debate on the measure, the committee rejected two amendments:

  • an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would have affirmed that peer-reviewed scientific medical research should be done by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee staff and that a priority would be given to research favored by lobbyists and celebrities, by voice vote; and
  • a second amendment by Sen. Coburn that would have required the Government Accountability Office to study how the enactment of disease-specific legislation would affect research at the National Institutes of Health, 9-12. In offering the first amendment, Sen. Coburn noted his opposition to disease-specific research measures, asking, “Are we going to pass a bill on each of these 12,000 different diagnoses?” Sen. Coburn added that passing disease-specific research measures “micromanages” the work of the National Institutes of Health.

    Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act (S. 1810)

    Sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), S. 1810 would authorize $5 million per year for FY2008-2012 to provide “scientifically sound information and support services” to women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome or other prenatal or postnatal disorders. The funds would be used by the secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to public and private organizations that provide supportive services to affected families, to establish an Internet website and a telephone hotline to assist families in locating local resources, the expansion of the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, and the establishment of a national registry of families willing to adopt newborns with Down syndrome or other prenatally or postnatally diagnosed conditions.

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