Thanks to the hard work of Members of Congress Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), House Resolution 6502 - the Life-Threatening Diseases Compassion Through Combination Therapy Act of 2012 - has been introduced. The MRF expresses its full support for this act, and we are grateful that Congress has recognized the need for these types of therapies and the promise that they hold for the melanoma community.
Below is the text of our letter to Congressman Bilbray, showing our support:
The Honorable Brian Bilbray
September 28, 2012
2410 Rayburn House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) thanks you for introducing H.R. 6502, the Life- Threatening Diseases Compassion Through Combination Therapy Act of 2012. This bill has the potential to impact the lives of countless men and women in the United States, including tens of thousands of people affected by melanoma.
The MRF is the oldest and largest non-profit organization working exclusively in melanoma. We have been funding research into better treatments and cures for nearly 15 years. Over that time, we have built unparalleled relationships with the research community and with patients. Through these relationships, we see clearly the need for better treatment options. We have also seen agreement emerge among researchers that true progress will only be made by combining two or more drugs into the kind of therapeutic “cocktail” that has proven so effective in HIV/AIDS and other treatments.
Despite the promise of combination therapies, patients have seen distressingly little progress with this approach. This is particularly the case in the area of greatest interest—combining two or more drugs that are still in development. H.R. 6502 will provide a financial incentive for industry to conduct precisely this type of study and will, undoubtedly, accelerate the development of better, more effective treatments for patients.
MRF hosts a large, robust bulletin board that receives over 50,000 visits a month, called the Melanoma Patients Information Page, or MPIP. Earlier this week we read that a frequent visitor to that board, Kevin, had died of melanoma. He was only 30 years old. As I read the text of H.R. 6502 I couldn’t help but wonder if Kevin’s life could have been saved through one of the studies this bill will help make possible. While the legislation can no longer help Kevin, perhaps it will help Jamie who is in her 30’s, or Kadynce who is 7 years old, or any of the thousands of others who struggle every day to fight off their cancer until the next breakthrough comes along to offer more hope.
This bill, above all, offers that hope. For people with melanoma, the research that the bill will encourage cannot come quickly enough. Melanoma is increasing at a rate that is faster than any other cancer, including an eight-fold increase among young women in the past 40 years.
As the rates of this deadly disease continue to rise and gaps in treatment options persist, the MRF is pleased to offer its enthusiastic support for the Life-Threatening Diseases Compassion Through Combination Therapy Act of 2012 and to urge its rapid passing by the House.
Tim Turnham, Ph.D.
Melanoma Research Foundation