The Special Diabetes Program (SDP) Receives New Life


The news is out: as of today, Congress has included a $150 million extension of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) as part of a year-end package of legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff.” This is good news and quite a relief for those who are living with and supporting research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D).

“For the past year, we have led the fight in Congress for renewal of the SDP because we know that this program has contributed to remarkable scientific breakthroughs in managing and treating diabetes, and this timely extension is central to curing T1D,” said Jeffrey Brewer, Breakthrough T1D’s president and CEO. “We are deeply grateful to the bipartisan congressional, committee, and diabetes caucus leadership for their commitment to the SDP, and the scores of other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who pushed for renewal. Clearly, when it comes to this disease there is no partisan divide, only a shared commitment to improve the lives of adults and children living with T1D.”

The SDP renewal was included in a package of bills addressing a series of health policy issues, including legislation to update Medicare health care provider payments. The $150 million per year extension of the SDP keeps the program operational until September 30, 2014 and ensures key research can continue uninterrupted. The SDP provides nearly 35 percent of the publicly-funded T1D research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“Since it began, the SDP has demonstrated measurable and impressive results,” said Richard A. Insel, M.D., Breakthrough T1D’s chief scientific officer. “The program has enabled scientists to make significant advances in cure therapies, prevention studies, and treatment improvements, including the artificial pancreas and groundbreaking advances in vision improvement among people with diabetic eye disease-advances that will help reduce long-term health care costs from diabetes complications.”

Breakthrough T1D made renewal of the SDP its top legislative priority in 2012. Over the course of the year, tens of thousands of Breakthrough T1D advocates contacted their members of Congress to urge action on SDP. In addition, hundreds of Breakthrough T1D families met with lawmakers in their districts and states, and prominent Americans with a connection to T1D-such as New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, and Olympic gold medal swimmer Gary Hall-authored newspaper opinion articles noting that the SDP represents a great investment to improve lives while lowering long-term federal health care entitlement spending.