National Institute on Drug Abuse
Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug
NIDA FY 98 House Appropriations Hearing
On March 4, 1997, NIDA Director Dr. Alan Leshner testified before the
House Labor/HHS appropriations subcommittee to discuss the Institute's FY
98 budget request and to provide subcommittee members with information regarding
NIDA's ongoing and future research activities. The President's FY 98 funding
request for NIH is $13.078 billion, including $521.9 million for NIDA [a
$32.8 million increase over FY 97].
Dr. Leshner provided an overview of what he termed an outstanding year
in drug abuse research. He highlighted the Institute's series of town meetings
to share what has been learned about drug abuse and prevention strategies
with other scientists, policy makers, and the public. He described major
new research initiatives in treatment, methamphetamine abuse, and children
and adolescents; and the application of brain imaging to our understanding
of addiction and discussed the importance of these findings in developing
effective medications. He also spoke of the importance of preventing initial
drug use, especially in young people, and discussed the Institute's efforts
to improve drug treatment approaches. Dr. Leshner noted that the Institute
has made tremendous progress toward developing anti-cocaine medications,
and is working with pharmaceutical companies in this important area.
In response to questions from Committee members Dr. Leshner spoke about
NIDA's medications development program, including prospects for the development
of a vaccine to prevent drug abuse; the efficacy of needle exchange programs
in reducing the spread of blood-borne infections and in getting people into
treatment; the recent NIH Workshop on the Medical Utility of Marijuana and
findings that suggest more research needs to be conducted in certain areas;
tobacco, alcohol and drug use among teenagers; drug abuse and HIV/AIDS in
minority populations; the effects of drugs of abuse in increasing dopamine
levels in the brain; and vulnerability and resiliency to drug abuse.
Bills of Interest
Two bills are pending in the Senate which would double NIH funding. S.
Res. 15, introduced by Senator Connie Mack (R-FL), would double NIH funding
over five years. S. 124, introduced by Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), would
double funding over 10 years. Senator Specter (R-PA) is reported to be committed
to a 7.5% ($952 million) increase for the NIH this year.
S. 15, Youth Violence, Crime and Drug Abuse Control Act of 1997, was
introduced by Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Tom Daschle (D-SD) on January
21. Although the primary purpose of the bill is to control youth crime,
it contains a number of provisions that would affect, or are of interest
to, NIDA. These provisions are outlined below.
Authorizes $100 million for fiscal years 2001 and 2002 for NIDA's Medication
Development Program. Funds would be appropriated from the Violent Crime
Reduction Trust Fund.
Incorporates provisions from S. 2051, a bill introduced by Senator Biden
in the 104th Congress. These provisions would, in essence, consider an anti-addiction
medication an orphan drug; provide incentives for small and medium size
pharmaceutical companies to develop an anti-addiction medication for cocaine
and heroin; and require the Institute of Medicine to establish criteria
for what would be considered an acceptable anti-addiction medication for
cocaine and heroin.
Other provisions of the bill would reauthorize the ONDCP through 2002
and provide such sums as necessary for the next 13 years (previous legislation
would reauthorize the ONDCP for 8 years). It would require the ONDCP Director,
in consultation with the Attorney General and DHHS Secretary, to conduct
a study of the effects of the California and Arizona Drug Initiatives. Among
the 9 areas to be studied are marijuana usage in the 2 States; usage of
other controlled substances in those 2 States; and the perceptions of Arizona
and California youth to the dangers of using marijuana and other controlled
S. 193, Human Research Subject Protection Act of 1997, was introduced
on January 22 by Senator John Glenn (D-OH. Among its provisions are the
requirements that all research involving human subjects apply the common
rule protections as provided under federal regulations and that any potential
regulatory conflict of interest within the DHHS and the NIH be addressed.
It would raise the NIH Office for Protection from Research Risks (OPRR)
to the Department level. It also includes provisions relating to classified
S. 441, National Trust Fund for Health Research Act, was introduced by
Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Chairman and Ranking
Minority Member on the Senate Labor/HHS appropriations subcommittee. The
bill would cause to be set aside approximately 1% of all health insurance
premiums for a National Fund for Health Research. The fund would be managed
by the NIH, and all resources for health research would be over and above
those provided to NIH in the annual appropriations process. Two percent
of the total fund would be used for extramural construction and renovation
of research buildings and facilities and an additional 2% would go to the
NIH Director for intramural construction and renovation as well as other
activities supported by the Office of the Director. Each NIH Institute would
be allocated a percentage based on the amount each Institute received of
the total NIH appropriation for a specific fiscal year.
H.R. 309, was introduced on January 7 by Representative Gerald Solomon
(R-NY) to prohibit federal departments and agencies from conducting or financing
any study or research involving the legalization of drugs.
H.R. 956, Drug Free Communities Act, was introduced by Reps. Portman
(R-OH), Hastert (D-MI), Levin (D-MI), and Rangel (D-NY). The bill would
amend the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 to establish a program
to support and encourage local communities that first demonstrate a comprehensive,
long-term commitment to reduce substance abuse among youth. The bill was
endorsed by the National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice
Subcommittee of House Government Reform and Oversight on March 13, following
a hearing. The bill would provide about $10 million of the $16 billion FY
98 federal drug control budget for technical and financial support through
grants to community-based anti-drug coalitions that are demonstrating a
commitment to fighting drugs.
Hearings of Interest
Biomedical Research Priorities -- May 1: The Senate Labor and
Human Resources Subcommittee on Public Health and Safety, chaired by Bill
Frist (R-TN), held a hearing on biomedical research priority setting in
Informed Consent -- May 8: NIH Director Dr. Harold Varmus has
been asked to testify at a hearing before the House Government Reform and
Oversight Subcommittee on Human Resources, which is chaired by Representative
Christopher Shays (R-CT). The hearing will focus on issues related to informed
consent, including issues related to needle exchange, the mentally challenged,
and children. NIDA, NIMH, NICHD, and the NIH Office of Extramural Research
have been asked to be present. Relevant to drug abuse, Subcommittee staff
have been interested in the Anchorage Alaska Needle Exchange study.
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