Dear Dr. Tornberg:
Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer that exacts a heavy toll on
Navy veterans. Of the 4,000 Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma every
year, approximately 32% were exposed to asbestos while serving in the
U.S. Navy or while working in naval shipyards. Despite the heavy toll
this insidious cancer exacts on Navy servicemen, neither the Department
of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs has a medical research
and treatment program for mesothelioma. Unfortunately, the National Cancer
Institute continues to grossly under fund mesothelioma research when compared
to other cancers.
We are asking for your cooperation in our mission to persuade Congress
to create a Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program for Mesothelioma.
Congress has created CDMRPs for ovarian, prostate, breast and other cancers
which are not necessarily service-connected. From 1992 to 2005, Congress
has appropriated over $3.4 billion dollars to the DOD for specific research
priorities. The time is long overdue for Congress to recognize the service
and sacrifice of the thousands of veterans who either currently suffer
from an asbestos-related cancer or are at a substantial risk for contracting
same in the future.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) has united patients,
doctors, lawyers and former asbestos manufacturers in the mission to eradicate
this terrible disease. We have proposed the creation of a $140 million
Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program, which would fund 10 centers
of excellence, establish the Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Registry and the Congressman
Bruce Vento Tissue Bank. The program MARF proposed was included in the
Ban Asbestos Act (SB 1125), a bill which is pending. There is widespread
agreement that the merits of a medical research program for asbestos cancer
should be considered separately from the rancorous debate over the need
for asbestos civil litigation tort reform.
We would like to discuss our proposal with you. We envision a united front
that includes the DVA and the DOD, along with distinguished members of
the scientific, medical, business and legal communities. The creation
of a federal program for mesothelioma research should not be tied to the
success or failure of asbestos compensation reform legislation. With your
support, we can attract support from both sides of the aisle, as mesothelioma
does not respect party, rank, or title.
For your review, we are attaching a number of memoranda, letters and articles
which speak to MARF's history, purpose and our impact within the medical
and legal communities. The attachments include aroadmap for curing mesothelioma,
a draft of the proposed $140 million research and treatment program, a
summary of the grants funded by MARF, an overview of MARF's peer-review
funding mechanism, an article that discusses the options for marshalling
the resources to fund medical research, and a statement by a Navy veteran
afflicted with mesothelioma.
We will be calling you in the next few days to discuss this letter and
the next step. We look forward to collaborating with you and your staff.
Roger G. Worthington