HACKENSACK, NJ (Bergen County) – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced Tuesday bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress — the Fairness to Kids with Cancer Act — to increase federal investment in pediatric cancer research, so more clinical trials receive investment and more children’s lives are saved.
Cancer is the number one cause of death of children from any disease. According to the CDC, New Jersey has the third highest rate of pediatric cancer in the country, Gottheimer said.
However, only four percent of federal cancer research investment is allocated to pediatric cancer research, Gottheimer said.
Every year about 12 drugs are developed in the United States and approved by the FDA for the treatment of adult cancers. However, since 1978 there have been just 6 drugs, total, developed and approved by the FDA for pediatric cancers, Gottheimer said.
For example, while brain cancer is the leading cause of disease related death in people under the age of 20, there has not been a child-specific drug developed for brain cancer since the 1970s. In fact, some children receive the same treatment that Neil Armstrong’s daughter received in the 1960s, Gottheimer
The Fairness to Kids with Cancer Act will adjust the level of federal investment in pediatric cancer research to match the percentage of American citizens under the age of 18, based on U.S. Census data. According to 2010 Census data, 24 percent of the U.S. population is under the age of 18, meaning the allocation for pediatric cancer research would increase to 24% of the total federal investment, Gottheimer said.
“It’s heartbreaking, because there are children behind every statistic. Pediatric cancer has touched far too many families, including my own. But in time, the Fairness to Kids with Cancer Act will help find cures, change lives, and save lives,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “With so much cutting-edge research and life sciences development taking place in New Jersey, this boost in investment will mean that our state will play a key role in helping find these cures. I’m looking to pave the way for New Jersey, and great centers like here at Hackensack Meridian, to be leaders in finding hope, not just for kids in North Jersey, but nationwide, and around the world.”
Gottheimer made today’s announcement at Hackensack Meridian Health Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital alongside Fair Lawn High School senior, Hackensack Meridian Children’s Hospital patient, and leukemia survivor Sean O’Malley and his family; Hackensack Meridian CEO Bob Garrett; Hackensack University Medical Center President Mark Sparta; and Dr. Derek Hanson, Program Head of Pediatric Neuro-oncology at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Hospital.
“When I was diagnosed, a million different things went through my head. How long does this take? What will happen with school? What are the chances of me dying? Despite all of this, I put my head down and battled this disease with everything I had. Within a month of beginning treatment, I was in complete remission,” said Fair Lawn High School senior Sean O’Malley. “When I learned about the statistics regarding the lopsided federal cancer research budget, it angered me because sick kids were getting the short end of the stick, and most are too young to even realize it. I’m hopeful that as more people are educated about this issue, they will work to increase funding for pediatric cancer research.”
“The Congressman has been an incredible friend to Hackensack Meridian, an incredible friend for health care in New Jersey, and I thank you for your leadership, including the announcement today,” said Hackensack Meridian CEO Bob Garrett. “I’d like to thank Congressman Gottheimer for his efforts to increase funding for pediatric cancer research. We fully support it, at Hackensack Meridian, the Fairness to Kids with Cancer Act and encourage all lawmakers to ensure this legislation becomes a reality. In this era of partisanship down in Washington, the Congressman is a breath of fresh air.”
“Pediatric cancer is not a red issue, it’s not a blue issue, it’s an issue that affects all of us. So, all of us need to get behind Congressman Gottheimer and his fellow representatives as they look to push this bill forward and secure the funding our children so desperately need,” said Dr. Derek Hanson, Program Head of Pediatric Neuro-oncology at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Hospital. “We can all work together to achieve our goal of tackling kids cancer.”
The Fairness to Kids with Cancer Act has been introduced by Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Mike Kelly (PA-16), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), and Elise Stefanik (NY-21).