Research for a Cure 

 Arthritis has no cure. As the number one cause of disability in the U.S., the time has come for federal investments in arthritis research to match the disease’ impact. 

Federal Investments in Arthritis Research and Programs 

Arthritis is an umbrella term to describe more than 100+ types of diseases related to joint pain or joint disease. People of all ages, sexes, and races can and do have arthritis. Arthritis affects 1 in 4 Americans and is the leading cause of disability in the United States and limits the daily activities of nearly 24 million Americans, resulting in a total economic burden of over $300 billion annually – surpassing tobacco-related health effects, cancer, and diabetes. 

There is no cure for arthritis, and for some forms of the disease like osteoarthritis, there is no disease-modifying therapy. Arthritis is an urgent public health priority. It’s time for federal investments in arthritis medical research and programs to match the disease burden.  

Increase Funding for the CDC Arthritis Program by $5 Million in FY 2020

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Arthritis Program is the only federal program dedicated solely to arthritis and collects data vital to understanding arthritis prevalence, trends, and factors impacting quality of life for people with the disease.  
  • The Arthritis Program funds 13 states through cooperative agreements, but investments are needed in all 50 states to improve disease management and quality of life for people with arthritis 
  • The program also funds state and national partners to deliver evidence-based exercise and self-management programs that are proven to decrease symptoms associated with arthritis; the CDC estimates physical activity programs can reduce annual health care costs by $1,000 per person. 

Create a Standalone Arthritis Program within the CDMRP Funded at $20 Million

  • Alarmingly, one in three veterans lives with arthritis compared to one in four in the civilian population. Arthritis carries with it enormous physical, financial and societal costs, but for veterans and service members, the costs are multiplied.  
  • Research supporting better prevention strategies, interventions and treatments is critical to reducing the number of service members and veterans suffering from arthritis 
  • Currently, arthritis and clinical care research on military personnel is limited with no dedicated funding year to year heightening the need to accelerate treatment breakthroughs for our service men and women, which will ultimately benefit all Americans with arthritis 
  • A dedicated $20 million arthritis research program within the Department of Defense (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) is sorely needed to: 
    • Identify better joint injury management to reduce the effects of joint degeneration 
    • Recognize ways to lessen joint injury during military training 
    • Develop interventions at the time of injury to delay or prevent the onset of arthritis.

Support Robust Arthritis Medical Research at the National Institutes of Health

  • Research holds the key to preventing, controlling, and curing arthritis and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is the primary National Institutes of Health (NIH) institute that supports federal arthritis medical research 
  • Research can identify better diagnostics and treatments, so that people have access to breakthroughs early in their disease, ensuring a higher quality of life and better health outcomes 
  • Research currently supported by NIAMS is addressing major questions necessary to unlocking the unknowns of arthritis including: 
    • Understanding how gene-environment interactions can help determine the relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and environmental and genetic factors that trigger onset 
    • Identifying biological pathways affected in people with rheumatoid arthritis and how drug development can target those pathways to expand the pool of drugs available 
    • Discovering how existing successful anti-rheumatic drugs may be used for other arthritis-related diseases 
  • The NIAMS budget represents about two percent of the total NIH budget – increased funding is needed to keep pace with the growing research needs in the arthritis community 

Continue Strong Support for Medical Care and Research at the VA

  • The one in three veterans suffering from arthritis need and deserve access to high-quality medical care and the latest evidence-based treatments to manage their disease 
  • Osteoarthritis (OA) is the second leading cause of medical discharge from the U.S. Army and the most frequent reason active duty personnel are deemed unfit for duty 
  • A 10-year review of arthritis among active duty personnel found OA rates to be 26 percent higher in the under-20 age group, compared with the same cohort in the general population 
  • Arthritis complicates chronic disease management for veterans: more than half of veterans with heart disease or diabetes also have arthritis 
  • Data from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Registry confirms that the mortality rate of veterans with RA is more than double the rate among those without RA 
  • Long-term medical and disability costs can be reduced with a greater, dedicated budgetary investment in arthritis research and providing more aggressive early care 
  • Funding for VA medical and prosthetic research must be predictable and sustained to ensure our commitment to veterans, science and innovation, and state-of-the-art facilities 

Advocate for What's Right

As an Arthritis Advocate, you’ll feel good about taking action to make health care more accessible. Help shift the policy and public perception that affects those living with arthritis.

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