Congress passed the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) in December 2010, committing $150 million per year to extend the program for an additional two years. The legislation marks the fifth time since 1997 that Congress has supported SDP, underscoring the government’s commitment to accelerating the search for a cure and the development of new treatments for type 1 diabetes.
“At a time when the incidence of diabetes, both type 1 and 2, is rising, and when the Centers for Disease Control predicts that one in three Americans will be living with diabetes by the year 2050, our nation cannot afford to falter in its support for research that will help to lessen and ultimately eliminate the burden of diabetes from our healthcare system,” says Jeffrey Brewer, president and CEO of JDRF.
The SDP is unique because it supplements annually appropriated NIH-research funding with a mandatory funding stream for type 1 diabetes research. Currently, the SDP represents 35 percent of all the federal research on type 1 diabetes.
Tangible Benefits from SDP
Since its establishment in 1997, the program has produced tangible scientific and clinical results, and real returns on the federal investment in type 1 diabetes research. In the past year, significant advances in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy and in the development of the artificial pancreas have been made possible by SDP- and JDRF-funded research. These advances will help people with diabetes maintain proper glucose levels and avoid complications that usually accompany the disease, such as kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, nerve disease, amputation, and pregnancy complications.
Research that aims to help treat or cure type 1 diabetes can also help manage or find a cure for other autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are long-range economic benefits as well. Today, nearly one-third of every Medicare dollar is spent on people with diabetes, and diabetes costs our nation about $174 billion a year. Spending $150 million per year on diabetes research may be one of the best return-on-investments the U.S. government could make.