Posted on June 5, 2003
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander today announced that he is co-sponsoring the "Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplantation Act of 2003," which provides funding for research to move islet cell transplantation from an experimental procedure to a more widely available therapy. Islet cell transplantation is a treatment for type 1 diabetics. Research has shown that through this therapy people living with diabetes can reduce their need for daily insulin injections. "Diabetes is a serious and deadly disease," Alexander said. "This legislation can help people suffering from diabetes through research and development of alternative treatments. It could also reduce health care costs. Diabetes accounts for 25 percent of Medicare costs in America." The goals of the legislation are to: Increase the supply of pancreata for islet cell transplantation and research; Establish a committee within the Department of Health and Human Services to study islet cell transplantation and related issues; Collect and analyze data necessary to move islet cell transplantation from an experimental procedure to a standard therapy covered by insurance; and Create a Medicare demonstration project to test coverage for individuals with type-1 diabetes who have kidney failure. The University of Tennessee Health Science Center is one of 10 national islet transplant centers working to make the experimental diabetes treatment more widely available. The bill, introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), has been sent to the Senate Health Education and Labor and Pensions Committee for review.