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“The Scleroderma and Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act of 2015," H.R. 3666

ACTION ALERT: U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

THE CHALLENGE

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is part of the federal government and the world’s foremost medical research entity. On an annual basis NIH supports research projects that advance our scientific understanding of the mechanisms of various diseases, including scleroderma. Medical breakthroughs facilitated by NIH research are often what industry uses to develop new therapies, cures, and diagnostic tools.

Depending on how scleroderma manifests itself it can cause fibrosis in various systems of the body. NIH supported scientists are currently studying the different body systems as well as scleroderma, pulmonary fibrosis, liver fibrosis, and other related conditions. However, this research is not presently coordinated and cross-cutting information is not shared in a meaningful way, which delays overall progress when working to cure fibrotic illness.

THE SOLUTION

Congressman Peter King of New York and Congresswoman Lois Capps from California are leading legislation that would organize and advance research in fibrotic illnesses using scleroderma as a prototypical condition for research due to its manifestation throughout the body, The Scleroderma and Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 3666).

This legislation seeks to:

  • Create a Commission of leading scientific experts to work together a draft a comprehensive long-range plan for systematic research in this area.
  • Establishes a Working Group to assist NIH with implementing the research plan and coordinating research activities.
  • End the millions of deaths each year that are attributed to chronic fibroproliferative illness through timely scientific progress.

Important political facts about this legislation:

  • It is bipartisan (both Democrats and Republicans support it).
  • It is budget neutral (the bill will not increase federal spending).
  • It is not disease-specific (it would help scleroderma and all fibrotic illness). 

The only way your Congressperson will consider supporting this effort is if a constituent officially asks him/her to do so. The more legislators that support this bill, the better the chance it has to be passed into law

BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION – PLEASE CLICK HERE TO ASK YOUR CONGRESSPERSON TO CONSIDER SUPPORTING THIS EFFORT

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Contact Your Senator to Ask for Their Continued Support of "Scleroderma" on the Department of Defense's FY2017 Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program

ACTION ALERT: U.S. SENATORS

Senators are currently working on the FY 2017 DoD appropriations bill and deciding which conditions will be included on the next PRMRP eligible conditions list. Being included on the list one year is no guarantee of being included again in the next year. At this critical time, please reach out to the offices of your Senators and ask that they “once again support the inclusion of scleroderma in the DoD PRMRP’s eligible conditions list in FY 2017.” 

Take action and send a letter to your senators >>

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Tell Your U.S. Senator about the Scleroderma and Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act of 2015

ACTION ALERT: U.S. SENATORS

If you live in AL, AK, AR, AZ, CO, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS,KY, LA, ME, MI, MO, MS, NE, NV, NH, NC, ND, OH, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WI, WY - PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEND AN E-MAIL TO YOUR SENATOR!

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is prepared to introduce the Scleroderma and Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act, but she needs a Republican Senator to join her and lead this effort.  Any Republican Senator can become a scleroderma champion, but first they need to be educated by the people they represent. Some Senators are particularly well-positioned to lead this legislation based on their positions on key Committees or their leadership on rare disease issues. If your state is represented by a Republican Senator, the community needs you to make the commitment to reach out to their office on Capitol Hill and ask them to lead this important legislation

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Learn more about THE SCLERODERMA AND FIBROSIS RESEARCH AND ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2015

With the advent of each new Congress (an event that happens every two years) there typically comes political changes and the leading parties gain or lose majority control of one or both Houses of Congress.With the 114th Congress now underway, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are under new leadership, including the leadership of all Congressional committees.  With such changes, the art and process of advocating for important causes must adjust to new political and Congressional priorities.

The Scleroderma Foundation’s Advocacy Program must also evolve to reflect the mood of the electorate as a whole, as represented by Congress, and adjust the approach by which we work to advance our important message:  that more needs to be done to find better therapies, the cause, and a cure for scleroderma.

We have worked with our scleroderma champions in both Houses of Congress to draft legislation that can advance our community’s needs and be acceptable in light of changing political climates.“The Scleroderma and Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act of 2015” is the title of the bill we are seeking to introduce.  

Why?  Recent studies suggest that nearly 45 percent of all deaths in the developed world are attributed to some type of chronic fibro-proliferative disease, affecting millions of Americans.  Scleroderma (systemic sclerosis) is a disease that creates fibrosis (scarring/sclerosis) in various organ systems of the body.  Therefore, systemic sclerosis can be considered a “prototypical” disease for study and any insights gained into its cause, or therapies that can address its complications, are likely be applicable more broadly to other forms of organ fibrosis and fibrotic illness, such as pulmonary fibrosis, liver fibrosis, etc.)

The Scleroderma and Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act of 2015” calls for the establishment of a national commission on scleroderma and fibrosis with a membership that includes multiple working groups across medical and research disciplines representing  the various organs and systems impacted by fibrotic illness.  This commission, under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health, will be tasked with creating a long-range plan within 18 month that focuses on opportunities and challenges in scleroderma and fibrosis research with recommendations that act as a blueprint for relevant research activities over the next decade.

With those recommendations from the National Commission, a Scleroderma and Fibrosis Working Group will be formed under the direction of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) to facilitate and oversee implementation of the plan’s recommendations and research priorities.The Scleroderma Foundation has modeled this advocacy plan and language of the bill on other disease-specific bills that have successfully advanced through Congress.  This bill does not create any new spending other than what is already appropriated to the National Institutes of Health, but it does encourage and require multiple institutes at NIH to collaborate on research that can have a high impact not only on scleroderma, but on numerous other conditions as well.

Unraveling the mysteries of scleroderma/systemic sclerosis obviously has great benefit to those living with this disease, but we cannot ignore the fact that finding new therapies, the cause, or a cure for scleroderma has the potential to benefit a significant number of fibrotic conditions.  
By leveraging scleroderma/systemic sclerosis as the prototypical disease model to study, as our bill seeks to do, we can bring more people together to work collaboratively with the hope of advancing the science at a faster pace.  Driven by science and where it leads us, as well as our continued commitment focus more research on scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, we are excited about our message to law makers in this Congress.  And once the bill in introduced, we will count on you, the scleroderma community, to help us get our message heard, as we’ve so successfully done in the past.

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