PORTLAND, Ore., May 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Armed with statistics showing psoriasis research funding languished as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) enjoyed record budget increases, the National Psoriasis Foundation released its 2004 legislative agenda today as its members gathered in Washington, DC to meet with Congressional offices. The top policy goal of the Psoriasis Foundation will be to secure additional funding for psoriasis research. Over the last decade, as NIH funding increased by 148%, psoriasis research funding at NIH's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) actually decreased by 13%.
"The five million Americans with psoriasis have missed out on the historic growth at the National Institutes of Health," said Gail M. Zimmerman, president and CEO of the Psoriasis Foundation. "While the reasons for this are complex, the federal government is apparently spending less than $1 per patient on psoriasis research annually. Given the human costs of psoriasis as well as the more than $2 billion spent annually treating this disease, we are asking Congress to increase the federal commitment to psoriasis research."
Psoriasis Foundation members from around the country are in Washington, DC today meeting with dozens of Congressional offices, unveiling the legislative agenda and educating lawmakers about the disease. In addition to urging increased research on psoriasis, the legislative agenda calls for Congressional support for NIH's Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan; for a government effort to increase the number of physicians and scientists treating and studying psoriasis; and for improved patient access to treatments and fair reimbursement rates for these treatments.
"I look forward to meeting with Congressional offices to explain the devastating impact psoriasis can have on people, and the importance of increasing research funding for this disease," said Isabel Esteviz, a Psoriasis Foundation member from Chicago, Ill. who is in Washington for the meetings. "We psoriasis patients need our fair share of the great work being done at NIH."
NIAMS funding for psoriasis research was $4.7 million in fiscal year 1995, and is just $4.1 million in FY 2004, a reduction of 13% before inflation. During the same time, the NIH budget grew from $11.3 billion to $28 billion, an increase of 148%. (NIH also funds some psoriasis research through other Institutes at NIH, but those lesser figures are not yet available.)
"NIAMS supports important research on behalf of psoriasis patients," Ms. Zimmerman added. "We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that NIAMS has the resources it needs to enhance its ability to conduct cutting-edge psoriasis research in the future."
Psoriasis is a lifelong skin disease that occurs when faulty signals in the immune system cause skin cells to regenerate too quickly-every three to four days instead of the usual 30-day cycle. Extra skin cells build up on the skin's surface, forming red, flaky, scaly lesions that can itch, crack, bleed and be extremely painful. Psoriasis generally appears on the joints, limbs and scalp but it can appear anywhere on the body, covering some people from head to toe. More than 5 million Americans have psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis, a degenerative disease of the joints and connective tissues associated with psoriasis. Psoriasis typically first strikes people between the ages of 15 and 35, but can affect anyone at any age, including children.
About the National Psoriasis Foundation
The National Psoriasis Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization fighting to improve the quality of life of the more than 5 million Americans diagnosed with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis and their families. Its mission is to educate people about these diseases and their treatments, raise public awareness, and support ongoing research. The organization is headquartered in Portland, Ore. For more information, please call the Psoriasis Foundation at 800-723-9166 or visit http://www.psoriasis.org/ .
National Psoriasis Foundation