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Advocates trying to put spotlight on federal funding for diabetes research

WASHINGTON — Iowans who have diabetes are waging a campaign with emails, calls and letters to members of Congress, urging them to pass what’s called the Special Diabetes Program.

Aryn Lloyd, a volunteer advocate for the Eastern Iowa Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, says the program pumps $150 million each year into vital research at the National Institutes of Health. “Renewal of the Special Diabetes Program is JDRF’s top legislative priority and it will ensure that promising research can continue delivering results toward better treatment, therapies and ultimately cures for type 1 diabetes,” Lloyd says. “Thanks to the Special Diabetes Program, there’s been pretty incredible progress over the years.”

Funding for the program actually would have expired in September but it was extended through the end of November. Lloyd, a Davenport native who has type 1 diabetes, says members of Congress are typically overwhelmed with requests to support various initiatives as the year’s end nears and she hopes this important program won’t be lost in the fray.

“We have worked hard to gain support within Congress so we do know that we have very strong bipartisan support of this program,” Lloyd says. “It’s just a matter of depending on how this bill is grouped. We don’t know how it’ll come into play so we’re just trying to be patient.”

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley chaired a hearing in February that called executives from seven large pharmaceutical companies as witnesses to discuss bounding prescription drug costs. The price of insulin, used in treating diabetes, has jumped 500-percent or more in recent years. Lloyd says there’s been little in the way of a resolution.

“We’re starting to see some movement in some states but the ultimate problem is definitely not fixed yet,” Lloyd says. “They’re working on possibly creating some bills but nothing’s in place. We’re just watching that.” More than one-and-a-quarter million Americans have type 1 diabetes, while in Iowa, it’s about 262,000 people.



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