Medical industry and patient groups urge omnibus passage

A coalition of research institutions, patient advocates and private businesses is urging Congress to pass the pending omnibus bill because it contains $32 billion for the National Institutes of Health in Fiscal Year 2011.

That amounts to a $750 million increase over the current NIH budget, which United for Medical Research says could help fund cancer research, aid with the development of an artificial pancreas to help the 23 million Americans struggling with diabetes and expand an ongoing blood pressure study.

"As we face tough economic times," coalition spokesman Gregory Lucier said in a statement, "NIH funding is not only a vital tool in our pursuit to reduce the burden of disease and its associated health care costs, but it also yields significant dividends for our nation, from job creation and life sciences industry growth to better quality of life for millions of patients and families. In fact, six million high wage jobs in the U.S. are fueled by NIH research."