Our Mission is to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-ending disease.
Mr. Kevin O'Scannlain
Office of Senator Orrin G. Hatch
104 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Date: April 8, 2003
Creation of Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program; "The Asbestos
Claims Criteria and Compensation Act," S. 413
Attached you will find (1) the proposed language for the creation of a
Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program (MRTP) and (2) a memorandum
from Dr. Harvey Pass, the Chairman of MARF's Science Advisory Board,
in which he fleshes out the proposed programs, their purpose, operation
and minimum funding requirements.
Since about 32% of all mesothelioma veterans diagnosed in the U.S. today
served in the Navy or worked in a Navy shipyard, we are suggesting that
the MRPT be jointly administered by the NIH, DVA and DOD. These three
agencies would fund up to ten mesothelioma centers of excellence (we refer
to same in the text as "MIRES" but for obvious reasons we should
probably change to another acronym, like "Translational Research
Institutes for Mesothelioma" (TRIMs), in the amount of $2.5 million
per center for each year from 2004 to 2008, after a rigorous peer review
protocol. The three agencies would also appoint a Medical Advisory Board,
consisting of experts in the field (such as those who serve on MARF),
who can review grant applications to make sure they are in line with the
stated Research Priorities (i.e., detection, prevention, treatment and
cure of mesothelioma).
The Program would also include a Registry and Tissue Bank. To honor Admiral
Elmo Zumwalt, who helped so many veterans afflicted with Agent Orange
related cancers through the creation of a bone marrow registry, you might
want to refer to the registry as the "Elmo Zumwalt Registry."
Similarly, you might want to honor another prominent figure whose life
was cut short by mesothelioma, Congressman Bruce Vento. We can refer to
the Tissue Bank as the "Bruce Vento Tissue Bank," in recognition
of his service as a public school teacher and his passion for science.
Regarding funding, we did not explore the option of funding the program
as an exactment from the proposed compensation trust. This is certainly
an attractive feature. Our focus was the substance of the program itself:
the creation of research and treatment centers geographically, as well
as a tissue bank and registry, and the operation of same, along with the
guiding principles. Our best estimate of the cost is $27,000,000 each
year for the next 5 years, for a total outlay of $135 million.
A key component is early detection and prevention. Although MARF has not
weighed in on the merits of the proposed reforms to the asbestos litigation
system, we would certainly want to offer hope to all unimpaired asbestos
patients that (1) research is underway to provide for early detection
of cancer and possible preventive measures and (2) should they ever become
afflicted with asbestos cancer, a meaningful program will be in place
that offers reasonable and accessible treatment options.
It has been a pleasure talking with you on the telephone and I look forward
to meeting you in person soon.
Yours very truly,
Roger G. Worthington, Esq.
Christopher E. Hahn, Esq.
Harvey Pass, M.D.
Science Advisory Board
Robert B. Cameron, M.D.
Board of Directors
cc: Ms. Rebecca Seidel