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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

September, 1997


Congressional Affairs

(Prepared August 25, 1997)

FY 98 Appropriations


By the beginning of the August recess, the House had already passed eight of the 13 FY 98 appropriations bills; the Senate had passed ten. House and Senate floor action on the Labor, HHS and Education and Related Agencies (L/HHS) Appropriations bills is expected to be completed during the first week of September.


Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Bills:

H.R. 2264 -- The first week of September 1997, floor action may begin on H.R. 2264, the FY 1998 Labor, HHS, Education bill. The full House Appropriations Committee (Chairman Livingston, R-LA) marked up the bill on July 22, as reported out of the House Subcommittee. For NIH, H.R. 2264 provides an increase of $764.4 million or 6% over FY 1997, bringing FY 1998 funding to $13.505 billion, which is $427.1 million more than the President's request. The accompanying report is House Report 105-205. The text of the House bill and report may be obtained at the following Internet site: http://www.aamc.org/research/adhocgp/ news.htm.

S. 1061 -- S. 1061, the FY 1998 Labor, HHS, Education bill, will be the first measure on the agenda when the Senate reconvenes on September 2. The full Senate Appropriation Committee (Chairman Stevens, R-AK) marked up the bill on July 24, with no changes to NIH amounts as reported out of the Senate Subcommittee. For NIH, S. 1061 provides $13.692 billion, which is an increase of $952 million or 7.5 percent over FY 1997, and $187.6 million more than the House. The accompanying report is Senate Report 105-58. The text of the Senate bill and report may be obtained at the following Internet site: http://www.aamc.org/research/adhocgp/ news.htm.


NIDA Appropriations

Appropriations, 1997 $489,160,000
President's Budget Request, 1998$521,915,000
House Committee recommendation$525,641,000
Senate Committee recommendation$531,751,000


House Report Language for the National Institute on Drug Abuse
[House Report 105-205]

"The bill includes $525,641,000 for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an increase of $3,726,000 over the amount requested and $35,528,000 over the comparable 1997 appropriation.

"Mission.-- NIDA-supported science addresses questions about drug abuse and addiction, which range from its causes and consequences to its prevention and treatment. NIDA research explores how drugs of abuse affect the brain and behavior and develops effective prevention and treatment strategies; the Institute works to ensure the transfer of scientific data to policy makers, practitioners, and the public.

"Behavioral and cognitive science.--The Committee commends NIDA for its pursuit of a behavioral science research portfolio to investigate such important questions as why people initiate drug use and why some become dependent on drugs. The Committee commends NIDA's recent efforts to increase the number of cognitive scientists studying issues relating to drug abuse, including the impact of drugs on learning and memory.

"The Committee is pleased with NIDA's child and adolescent research initiative and encourages additional research on the basic behavioral factors in processes such as peer pressure and decision-making at these age levels. The Committee also encourages NIDA to investigate the impact of drugs of abuse on the brains of young people. The effects of long-term drug use on development and behavior as well as the increased risk for HIV infection have a devastating impact on our youth.

"Social work research.--The Committee commends NIDA's support for research on families and drug abuse, behavioral and psychosocial treatment research and health services research. The Committee also supports NIDA's efforts to increase the number of social work researchers conducting drug research and encourages NIDA to explore possibilities to fund social work services research within graduate schools of social work."


Senate Report Language for the National Institute on Drug Abuse
[Senate Report 105-58]

"The Committee recommends an appropriation of $531,751,000 for the National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA]. This is $9,836,000 more than the budget request and $42,591,000 more than the fiscal year 1997 appropriation. The comparable numbers for the budget estimate include funds to be transferred from the Office of AIDS Research.

"Mission--Created in 1974, NIDA supports about 85 percent of the world's biomedical research in the area of drug abuse and addiction. The Committee commends NIDA for demonstrating through research that drug use is a preventable behavior and addiction is a treatable disease of the brain. NIDA's basic research plays a fundamental role in furthering knowledge about the ways in which drugs act on the brain to produce drug dependence and contributes to understanding how the brain works. In addition, NIDA research identifies the most effective pharmacological and behavioral drug abuse treatments. NIDA conducts research on the nature and extent of drug abuse in the United States and monitors drug abuse trends nationwide to provide information for planning both prevention and treatment services. An important component of NIDA's mission is also to study the outcomes, effectiveness, and cost benefits of drug abuse services delivered in a variety of settings.

"Behavioral and cognitive science--The Committee agrees that research should inform the Nation's policies on treating and preventing drug abuse and commends NIDA for its aggressive pursuit of an expanded behavioral science research portfolio to investigate such critical questions as why people initiate drug use and why some become dependent on drugs. The Committee commends NIDA's recent efforts to increase the number of cognitive scientists studying issues relating to drug abuse.

"Putting research to work for drug abuse prevention.--The Committee congratulates NIDA for its recently released research based guide. The Committee is pleased that the guide is being distributed to schools and community groups nationwide.

"Information dissemination and education.--The Committee is pleased that NIDA continues to reach out to communities across the country to provide research-based information to scientists, practitioners, policymakers, and the public. The Committee encourages NIDA to continue to develop culturally appropriate research-based materials, work with local community-based networks and hold town meetings at various locations to present the latest scientific information available to prevent and treat drug abuse and addiction.

"Methamphetamine initiative.--Recognizing that methamphetamine abuse is a growing problem of alarming proportions in the Western United States, the Committee is very pleased that NIDA sponsored a regional meeting in San Francisco to bring together scientists, practitioners, policymakers, and members of the community to discuss the most current research on methamphetamine effects and to identify those research areas that are the most promising.

"Treatment initiative.--Behavioral therapies are often the only available treatments for drug problems where no medication yet exists. The Committee applauds NIDA's treatment initiative which is directed toward transplanting the knowledge in behavioral science into new and useful therapies and for laying the groundwork for the integration of both behavioral and pharmacotherapies.

"Genetic research.--Great strides have been made in understanding of human genetics. The Committee encourages NIDA to continue working to identify genes that contribute to individual vulnerability to drug addiction. This research may ultimately lead to the development of new and more effective prevention and treatment strategies.

"Children and adolescents.--Addiction affects every segment of American society, but nowhere is it more devastating in its consequences than among our Nation's youth. The Committee recognizes that NIDA's research is providing critical insights into the factors that place young people at particular risk for drug abuse. NIDA is also identifying those characteristics that protect against drug abuse, and it is providing the foundation on which to build effective, research-based drug abuse prevention strategies. The Committee is pleased that NIDA has launched a special initiative on children and adolescent research to speed progress in this important area."


NIH Reauthorization

Senator Bill Frist, R-TN, Chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee's Public Health and Safety Subcommittee, plans to introduce an NIH reauthorization or revitalization bill some time in late September. According to the Senator, the Subcommittee is pursuing a systematic process that will eventually lead to the introduction of the NIH reauthorization/revitalization bill. The Subcommittee is conducting a series of three hearings to provide forums for discussion and exchange for the Members' consideration, in advance of the time at mark up of the NIH reauthorization/revitalization bill when decisions must be made. The first hearing, held on May 1, 1997, was to provide such a forum for discussion on NIH priority setting in the context of Congressional earmarks. Senator Frist reiterated that this first hearing grew out of discussions at the mark up of the NIH Revitalization Act of 1996, S. 1897, where many Members of the Subcommittee expressed an opinion that the Subcommittee should not micromanage research by establishing legislative mandates for specific areas of research.

The second hearing, on July 24, 1997, was to focus on how the NIH coordinates research. Sen. Frist said that he recognized that scientific research is applicable to many diseases, resulting in multiple institutes involved with a single disease. The Subcommittee heard about how NIH coordinates across Institutes; how NIH promotes special areas of research; and what criteria are applied to determine appropriate mechanisms for coordination and how it should be coordinated. The hearing addressed these through case studies in emerging technologies, such as bioengineering and bioimaging; Parkinson's disease; and research involving special populations such as children. The hearing addressed the need for technology coordination, in particular, bioengineering and imaging, then moved quickly into the areas of Parkinson's disease, which consumed a majority of the three and one half hour hearing. Sen. Frist stated that there will be a third hearing in September on clinical research.


ONDCP Reauthorization

On July 23, 1997, a hearing was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Retired General Barry McCaffrey, Director of ONDCP, testified. Two bills to reauthorize the Office (ONDCP's current authorization ends September 30) have been introduced.

  • S. 1053, the Administration's bill, was introduced by Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) on July 22, and would extend the Office for 12 years (FY 98 through FY 2009): 10 years for implementing its new 10-year Drug Control Strategy, and 2 to evaluate its effectiveness.
  • HR 2295, introduced by Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) July 30, is a straight one-year reauthorization bill (through September 30, 1998) and makes no substantive changes in ONDCP existing statutory authorities.

A third, related bill, HR 1641, introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA, on May 15, would increase ONDCP's authority to transfer funds from one drug control agency to another from the current 2%, up to 10%.


Miscellaneous Bills of Interest

HR 2212 - On July 22, Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) introduced HR 2212 [the "HIV Prevention Outreach Act of 1997"], which would require the Secretary of HHS in consultation with the Director, NIH, and Director, CDC, to award grants to states and localities to carry out needle exchange programs without charge. Such a program must be part of an HIV prevention project and must be "carried out consistent with scientific studies that have found that making sterile hypodermic needles available to the public without charge is an effective means of preventing the transmission of HIV and does not encourage the use of illegal drugs." NOTE: The Congressional Quarterly reports that nearly 100 locally-funded needle exchange programs are now operating nationwide.

HR 1345 - In April 1997, Rep. Cummings (D-MD) sponsored HR 1345, which would establish a Commission on National Drug Policy to conduct a comprehensive study and report to the President and the Congress on the unlawful production, distribution, and use of controlled substances. The 13-member panel, appointed by the President and Congressional leaders, would investigate the causes of such unlawful use; evaluate the efficacy of existing Federal laws, including minimum sentences; and analyze present national policy, including an evaluation of what proportion of funds should be dedicated to interdiction, Federal enforcement, education and other forms of prevention, and rehabilitation.

HR 2363 - On July 31, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced HR 2363, which would amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide a mandatory life penalty for trafficking and certain other offenses involving methamphetamine.

HR 2031 - On June 24, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) introduced HR 2031, which would amend the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act to eliminate the specified mandatory minimum penalties relating to trafficking, possession, importation, and distribution of crack cocaine.

HR 2158 and S 1034 - The third largest FY 1998 appropriations measure provides funding for all programs under the VA and HUD departments, and a host of independent federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF). The House bill includes a 6.6% increase over FY 97 for NSF; the Senate bill provides a 3.3% increase. NOTE: The two-year NSF reauthorization passed by the House (HR 1273) and similar legislation (S 1046) approved by the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee authorize about a 7 percent rise for FY 98.


Senate Forum on Medications Development

Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Bob Kerrey (D-NB) co-hosted a Senate Forum on May 9, to examine the progress of research aimed at developing anti-addiction medications to block the craving for illicit drugs. Senator Moynihan (D-NY) also participated. The forum featured three panels of experts including Dr. Alan Leshner, the Director of NIDA, and Dr. Frank Vocci, Director of NIDA's Medications Development Division. Leading academic scientists involved in research and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry also appeared to discuss their research and development activities.


Drug Free Communities Act

On June 27, the President signed into law the "Drug Free Communities Act of 1997" (HR 956-PL 105-20), which authorizes $143.5 million over five years for small grants from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to local groups that have established effective plans to reduce substance abuse among youth. Community coalitions could receive up to $100,000, but would have to match the amount of the grant with their own money. The new law's bipartisan supporters, including bill sponsor Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who introduced the similar Senate counterpart, say local groups are better situated to fight drug use in their communities than the Federal government. NOTE: The pending FY 1998 Treasury, Postal Service and General Government appropriations bills (S. 1023 as passed by Senate/unnumbered draft approved by the House Appropriations Committee) include a $10 million allocation to ONDCP to begin implementation during fiscal 1998.


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