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Date: February 7th, 2007

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President's Budget Lacks Funds to Stem "Silver Tsunami" of Age-Related Chronic Diseases

Washington, D.C. - The Alliance for Aging Research today warned that the president’s proposed FY 2008 budget lacks sufficient funding to address the growing burden of age-related chronic diseases. 

“With the oldest of the 77 million baby boomers now in their 60s, now is the time to increase investment in medical research and innovation and to ensure that regulators have sufficient resources to expedite the review of therapies that target chronic diseases,” said Daniel Perry, executive director of the non-profit Alliance for Aging Research. 

The Alliance calls it the “Silver Tsunami”—the rising tide of chronic diseases of aging that threatens to engulf American health care in the 21st Century. “For sheer size, economic impact and lack of precedent, the Silver Tsunami stands alone,” explained Perry. “Unlike bird flu or exotic infectious diseases that may come to our shores, a tidal wave of chronic illnesses and disabilities is a certainty with the aging of America’s baby boom generation.” 

Already it is estimated that nearly half of all Americans have a least one chronic disease. One in four has multiple chronic infirmities such as arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure. Just five diseases – heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s – cost the U.S. $771 billion each year. 

In particular, the Alliance believes the administration’s proposed budget lacks sufficient funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to address the growing burden of chronic diseases. 

The president’s budget proposal includes an increase in NIH budget authority of $232 million over the administration’s estimate for FY 2007. However, taking into account the Joint Funding Resolution for FY 2007 currently before Congress and other funding obligations, the president’s proposal would actually result in a $511 million reduction in funding for the NIH. 

The administration’s proposal also includes a $125 million increase over the FY 2007 Joint Funding Resolution for the FDA. Although this is a step in the right direction, it falls short in addressing key areas that would allow FDA to modernize, innovate, and adapt to changing science. 

The Alliance will work in collaboration with other organizations to educate Congress about the need to increase funding for these critical agencies. 

“Although there is a lot of effort focused on reducing the costs of caring for Medicare patients, we will only see real progress by reducing the impact of disease and that requires increased investment in research,” said Perry. “Our best defense against the Silver Tsunami is to play to America’s strengths in scientific innovation and technological ingenuity. Many scientists believe that if research is adequately funded, it is realistic to expect cures, preventions and disease-modifying strategies to emerge in the years ahead.” 

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Founded in 1986, the Alliance for Aging Research is a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the health and independence of aging Americans through public and private funding of medical research and geriatric education. The Alliance combines the interest of top scientists, public officials, business executives, and foundation leaders to promote a greater national investment in research and new technologies that will prepare our nation for the coming senior boom, and improve the quality of life for today’s older generation.