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Time To Review Research Funding

Tom Galli

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We are spending gobs of money on COVID research. The pandemic death toll in the US just passed 400,000 souls and that is bad. Or is it? Saying something is bad begs a point of comparison: as in bad compared to what? Let's say deaths from lung cancer. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 152,977 perished from lung cancer in FY 2020. Well that is certainty less than COVID deaths but COVID has been killing for only 1 year. Lung cancer has been killing forever.

Hopefully a COVID vaccine will take hold and arrest the death rate. I wonder what arrests the lung cancer death rate. Let's review the bidding on NIH research funding for various diseases, including COVID.  


Note all of the diseases here except COVID have what might be thought of as a "self-induced" label. Notice how little HIV, Obesity, Opioids or even Alcoholism research are affected by being self-induced. But lung cancer stands out killing more than twice in this array (save for COVID) and dead last in research dollars! Now COVID research should result in a vaccine to eliminate COVID. With only 7,456 deaths by HIV/AIDS, that malady is near eliminated. Is lung cancer near eliminated? Hell no!

We have two pandemics raging the country: COVID, the one everyone knows about; and lung cancer, the one no one cares about. And that is crystal clear by a quick glance in the NIH funding profile. Be mindful of our real pandemic and...

Stay the course.


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Thank you Tom for taking the lead on yet another important issue. What a tragedy. Unfortunately it is all about money. Cancer is a windfall and a gift that keeps on giving for Pharmaceutical companies and also our Politicians.  Just look at this chart from 2018. Cancer drugs and treatment is the highest revenue generator among all deceases (https://www.statista.com/statistics/279916/top-10-therapeutic-classes-by-global-pharmaceutical-sales/).  It makes perfect sense to me that if a stage four lung cancer patient can survive for 5 or 6 years, there must be away for the majority of lung cancer patient to achieve that goal and even better. Unfortunately due to fragmentation of efforts, that cure is hard to identify. It is up to us lung cancer patients to be heard and force our Politicians to listen. Instead of being Republicans or Democrats, we need to be lung cancer patients first. Our lives depend on it.

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Gary, I read your post this morning & nearly teared up (I guess that’s Monday scanxiety kicking in).   You’ve quoted the mission of The White Ribbon Project beautifully.  IT’S UP TO US!!!   Politicians and cancer centers have failed our community.   Now is the time to STAND TOGETHER.  

My gas tank is empty today after a war ensued with KU CC to get cancer patients prioritized for COVID vaccines.   Late Friday night the Medical Director caved FINALLY sending a letter to the Governor’s HHS Secretary leading the COVID response.   

We have the power to change how we are treated.  When the perception changes, I want to believe the money will follow.  

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