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Taxpayer Advocacy Group Says Cures Bill is the Right Medicine

Published Dec 8, 2005

For immediate release
December 8, 2005

Contact: Jennifer Heffelfinger
jennifer@arl.org

TAXPAYER ADVOCACY GROUP SAYS CURES BILL
IS THE RIGHT MEDICINE

Alliance for Taxpayer Access Commends Proviso
that Would Make Federally Funded Biomedical Research Available
to All Potential Users

Washington, DC - The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), a national coalition of patient groups, libraries, and public interest organizations, today praised the research access provision of legislation introduced to establish the American Center for Cures within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Introduced on December 7th by Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS), the bipartisan Cures Bill would expedite development of new therapies and cures for life-threatening diseases. Among the requirements of the bill is the establishment of free public access to articles stemming from research funded by agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), including NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

"The Cures Bill is exactly the medicine that’s needed," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and a leader of the ATA. "It goes right to the heart of the case for unfettered access to publicly funded research. Senators Lieberman and Cochran took a close look at how best to speed development of treatments for diseases. Among their conclusions is that it’s time we ensure the research we’re already conducting is available to all potential users."

Pat Furlong, executive director of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy and an ATA member, was also pleased with the bill. "It recognizes how important the sharing of information is to speeding research and translating new knowledge into cures," said Furlong. "In the age of the Internet, it makes no sense for the results of taxpayer-funded research to be hidden away."

The bill calls for DHHS-funded research to be made available in NIH’s popular PubMed Central online digital archive within six months of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The NIH already has a policy that asks its investigators to deposit their manuscripts in PubMed Central, but the policy is voluntary and public access can be delayed up to a year. NIH estimates that less than five percent of eligible research is making its way into PubMed Central under their current policy. The Cures Bill would require deposit of refereed articles and reach beyond the NIH. It would also provide access sooner than the NIH policy.

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About the Cures Bill

- "Public Access Requirement for Research" is Section 499H-1 of the American Center for Cures bill introduced in the Senate.

- Summary of the Cures Bill:
http://lieberman.senate.gov/documents/bills/051207curesbill.pdf

- Section-by-section breakdown of the legislation:
http://lieberman.senate.gov/documents/bills/051207curessectionbysection.pdf

- List of quotes from supporters of the bill:
http://lieberman.senate.gov/documents/bills/051207curesquotes.pdf

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is a coalition of stakeholders who support reforms that will make publicly funded research accessible to the public. Formed in 2004, the Alliance has played a leading role in the drive for free, timely access on the Internet to peer-reviewed articles funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. It is administered on behalf of Alliance members by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). Information on the Alliance may be found at www.taxpayeraccess.org. Alliance members are listed at www.taxpayeraccess.org/membership/index.shtml.

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