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Area State Representatives Visit Fox Chase Cancer Center To Discuss Tobacco Settlement

PHILADELPHIA (January 29, 1999) -- Area state legislative members recently visited Fox Chase Cancer Center to find out more about the tobacco settlement and the $11.3 billion dollars headed to Pennsylvania. The central issue during the recent meetings was a proposal set forth by Fox Chase and six other preeminent cancer centers in Pennsylvania calling for the Commonwealth to set aside a significant portion of the settlement money for cancer research.

Attending the meeting were State Representatives Ellen M. Bard (R-Montgomery County), Chris R. Wogan (R-Philadelphia), George T. Kenny, Jr. (R-Philadelphia), and Dennis M. O'Brien (R-Philadelphia). The representatives heard, in full detail, the proposal asking that 25 percent of the settlement money be spent on cancer research. The seven cancer centers include in the plan include Fox Chase Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University, The Wistar Institute, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and Penn State Geisinger Cancer Center.

At the meeting, Robert C. Young, M.D., president of Fox Chase Cancer Center, pointed out, "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make an investment to improve the health and well-being of current and future generations of Pennsylvanians."

Cancer incidence and deaths from this disease will be a continuing and significant assault on the citizens of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has estimated that, over the next 10 years, more than 700,000 Pennsylvanians will be diagnosed with cancer. More than 300,000 will die unless there are immediate and notable improvements in prevention research and cancer treatment.

"Research saves lives. We need new treatments, new methods of prevention, and new diagnostic tools," added Young.

If 25 percent of the state's tobacco settlement money is granted for cancer research, the cancer centers hope to allocate the funds based on support from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) through a distribution system already in place. The NCI support is competitive and "peer" reviewed.

"Another major benefit of this proposal is accountability," added Young. "Five years down the road when someone asks 'What has been accomplished with the money?' we'll be able to hand that person a complete record of what research was funded and its results. We are already held to this kind of accountability for grants and other money."

The settlement, approved by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge John W. Herron, would send $11.2 billion dollars to Pennsylvania over the next 25 years. The Cancer Centers' proposal was introduced to Governor Tom Ridge in December.

Other states have also recognized the importance of using funds from a tobacco settlement to build on existing cancer research capabilities. Settlements in both Texas and Florida, which provided significant support for their cancer centers, proved to minimize administrative costs and maximize their investment in cancer research. These states also recognized the economic importance of strengthening their biomedical research programs. A similar investment in Pennsylvania will help ease the burden of human cancer, both personally and economically, and will help build the Commonwealth's strength in biomedical research.

It is up to General Assembly to appropriate the money from the tobacco settlement. The first payment to Pennsylvania in the amount of $138 million has already been made to an escrow account. The money will be turned over to the State when 80 percent of the states, representing 80 percent of the total allocation, have reached court approval of their settlements and the appeal periods have expired. The state's second payment would be $368 million. After that, the state is slated to receive between $398 million and $482 million each year for the next 25 years for a total of $11.3 billion.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 35 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. Fox Chase activities include basic and clinical research; prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer; and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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