NCI Cooperative Group Program in Need of an Overhaul

According to a recent study released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the NCI's clinical trials cooperative group program needs a major overhaul to conduct the type of large-scale clinical trials needed to improve cancer care. Since the program's inception, it has played a key role in developing and improving cancer treatments, and supports an average of 25,000 patients and 14,000 clinical investigators each year.

The IOM report, entitled A National Cancer Clinical Trials System for the 21st Century: Reinvigorating the Cooperative Group Program, offered several suggestions to revamp the program.

The Cooperative Group Program shares one major obstacle with much of the cancer research world: a lack of funding. The NCI, facing a budget shortfall itself, currently provides $145 million to the program annually, which is inadequate to sustain the type of cross-institutional and interdisciplinary studies funded by the program.

The IOM report was more bad news for the program, following a survey by the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) recently published in the Journal of Oncology Practice. That report stated that nearly one-third of NCI cooperative member sites plan to limit their participation in federally-funded clinical trials due to poor reimbursement rates.

Act Now - Urge Your Representatives to Support Increased Cancer Research Funding

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The president’s recently released budget proposal includes increases of just 3.2 percent for NIH and 3.16 percent for NCI. Advocates are urged to contact their legislators and urge them to increase both NIH and NCI’s budget by 13.5 percent; increases of $4.2 billion for NIH and $691 million for NCI. Please contact your elected official now!

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