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Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse
May, 2002

Congressional Affairs

The President's Budget For FY 2003

The President released his proposed FY 2003 budget on February 4, 2002. The budget reflects the Administration's three main objectives of protecting the homeland, winning the war on terrorism abroad, and returning to economic vitality. The President's FY 2003 budget request of $27.3 billion for the NIH, completes the five-year doubling of the agency's budget by FY 2003. This sum provides an increase of $3.7 billion, or 15.7 percent, over the FY 2002 funding level. It is the largest dollar increase ever for NIH. For NIDA, the President's FY 2003 budget request is $968 million, an increase of 8.6 percent over FY 2002.

NIH Appeears Before Appropriators

On March 13, 2002, Acting NIH Director, Dr. Ruth Kirschstein appeared before the House Labor, HHS, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (L-HHS) and its Chairman, Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH).

The Subcommittee, continuing the format of "theme hearings" developed last year, heard from a panel of NIH directors the following day on the theme "From Bench to Bedside and Beyond," to highlight translational research and progress from basic discovery to the patient's bedside. On March 19, 2002, the second in the series of theme hearings was held before the subcommittee addressing "Fundamental Research: Biomedical Science in the Future." NIH witnesses included Dr. Kirschstein, Dr. Glen Hanson, Acting Director, NIDA, and the Directors of NIGMS, NIMH, NCRR, and CSR.

Dr. Hanson testified that new discoveries of significant promise are transforming our understanding of the brain and body and providing us with the knowledge we need to confront problems of the day. NIDA employs new science technology to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of drug addiction. NIDA's National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network, an infrastructure consisting of 14 nodes spread across the country, is testing science-based protocols and identifying how to adapt these therapeutic strategies for community use. NIDA anticipates expanding this network to reach underserved populations such as diverse minority groups and rural communities. Coupled with strong research is NIDA's ability to expand its dissemination to clinicians. Through coordinated dissemination and translational research efforts, NIDA ensures that even the most basic neurobiology discoveries systematically influence community prevention and treatment providers across the country so that our citizens can live healthier and more productive lives.

Dr. Hanson also testified about the role stress plays in drug abuse and addiction, particularly in light of the events of September 11. NIDA is expanding its research to better understand the role of stress in the initiation, escalation and relapse to drug use. Dr. Hanson concluded by noting that continued progress can be expected in curtailing drug abuse and addiction if we continue to capitalize on the strong research foundation that NIDA has established. Research is critical to all of our Nation's endeavors and there is hope in knowing that new and growing public health needs such as addiction, AIDS, bioterrorism, cancer and diabetes are being tackled head on with the formidable force of science.

Additional theme hearings before the House Appropriations L-HHS Subcommittee were on "Collaborations in Research", "Disease Prevention and Health Promotion", and "Bioterrorism."

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) Chairman, held its hearing on the President's FY 2003 budget on March 21, 2002. Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin asked how NIH is preparing to adjust to lower annual increases projected by the Administration starting in FY 2004. Dr. Kirschstein testified that "science is not going to stop evolving and expanding because the [budget] doubling has ended." Other areas of concern by the Subcommittee included post-doubling continuation of funding of more and better quality grant applications; embryonic stem cell research; and centralization of the HHS legislative affairs, public affairs, and human resources offices.

NIDA Provides Statement for the Record to the Senate Help Committee

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee requested a statement for the record from NIDA for a hearing on February 12, 2002, on "OxyContin: Balancing Risks and Benefits." Dr. Hanson, Acting Director, NIDA, submitted a statement discussing what we have learned about psychoactive prescription drugs, their potential for abuse, and how we can prevent and treat individuals who may abuse or become addicted to them. Dr. Hanson provided information about the opiate OxyContin, and then broadened the discussion to talk about how research on a specific drug like this fits into NIDA's overall research portfolio. His statement noted that while OxyContin may be of great concern at this time, the overall picture of drug abuse in the U.S. is constantly changing. Both regional and national drug abuse patterns are constantly reshaping and rarely remain static. By monitoring these constantly changing drug trends and by having a comprehensive research portfolio that covers all substances of abuse, NIDA is positioned to use the power of scientific research to avert emerging drug problems before they become national epidemics.

NIDA Acting Director Briefs Senate Staff

On April 11, 2002, NIDA Acting Director, Dr. Glen Hanson, briefed Senate Special Committee on Aging staff at the request of Cecil Swamidoss and Phil Thevenet, staff to Senator John Breaux (D-LA), Chairman. The briefing addressed prescription drug abuse and the elderly.

Bills of Interest

H.R. 3793 - "The Health Professionals Substance Abuse Education Act" was introduced February 26, 2002, by Rep. Kennedy (D-RI). The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. A companion measure, S.1966, was introduced February 26, 2002, in the Senate by Sen. Biden (D-DE). The Senate bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The bills would promote education of health professionals concerning substance abuse and addiction, authorize $3.5 million for FY 2002 through 2006, and would create an oversight committee to include the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and representatives of NIDA, NIAAA, SAMHSA, HRSA, as well as non-governmental organizations.

H.R. 3814 - "The National Center for Social Work Research Act" was introduced February 27, 2002, by Rep. Rodriguez (D-TX) for himself and Rep. Upton (R-MI). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The bill would establish a National Center for Social Work Research as part of the National Institutes of Health to conduct, support, and disseminate targeted research on social work methods and outcomes related to problems of significant social concern.

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