IBS Awareness Month 2016: How Far We Have Come and Have Left to Go

April 29, 2016

by Nina Pan, IBS Impact founder and primary blogger for IBS Impact.

Three years ago, on April 24, 2013, I wrote a post for IBS Awareness Month that began with some reflections on my personal experiences with IBS, as well as my motivations for IBS Impact. At that time, I had been living with IBS for over five years, and 2013 marked my sixth April with IBS. I observed  for how many of us, dealing with the numerous actual or potential effects on a day to day basis often makes it difficult to recognize when progress is being made, either for us as individuals, or for the IBS community as a whole. I stated that it is only with the passage of time that I had begun to realize how some things are indeed changing, albeit slowly, for the better. In the rest of the post, I pointed out numerous areas in IBS research, IBS treatment, understanding of the impact of IBS on quality of life, increased societal support and advocacy that had seen concrete, positive change in just the five years and six IBS Awareness Months  I had personally experienced.

 On April 10, 2014  and April  14, 2015, I reported in a similar vein on progress for the IBS community in each respective year. Now, continuing the tradition during my own eighth year and ninth IBS Awareness Month, once again, I can observe small steps forward in just a single year.

Progress in the science of IBS:

In the past year, this blog often noted open clinical trials in diverse areas of IBS,  such as diagnosis,  brain gut interactions, hormones, fecal microbiota transplants, and enzymes. These varied endeavors are taking place in or with the involvement of many scientists from many countries. See other posts in the Research category of the blog sidebar or our Facebook or Twitter feeds to see the range of research news and clinical trial opportunities publicized over the most recent several months.

Progress in the diagnosis and treatment of IBS:

 Over the past 16 months, this blog has often reported on the development of Rome IV criteria, the latest update to the international symptom-based diagnostic criteria for functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS. The Rome criteria, which are said by leading IBS researchers to be 98% accurate for most people with IBS symptoms, have been in existence in some form for 25 years although research shows that many people with IBS and medical professionals who do not specialize in IBS remain unaware of this. As this blog reported on October 11, 2015,  Rome IV is expected to include a new Multidimensional Clinical Profile which, for the first time, will take into account common extraintestinal (non-GI) symptoms and other psychological and social factors that may influence care for particular individuals with IBS.  Rome IV will be officially published and presented to the international gastroenterology community at the annual Digestive Disease Week professional conference taking place about 3 weeks from now. It is hoped that it will provide better diagnosis and treatment for people with IBS worldwide, and new opportunities for education of medical professionals in functional GI disorders.

Several investigational medications and other non-pharmaceutical treatment options are always in the research pipeline in various parts of the world. In the U.S., prescription medications. Rifaximin (brand name Xifaxan) and Eluxadoline (brand name Virberzi) both received FDA approval for IBS-D in late May 2015 and are now in use by some people with IBS.

 Progress in understanding the impact of IBS and the barriers that remain:

As this blog reported on January 26, 2016, the Gastrointestinal Society in Canada launched an online survey seeking experiences and opinions and needs of adults with IBS and parents of children with IBS across Canada. The results are intended to shape future GI Society programs and to advocate and educate health care providers, policymakers and community members about IBS. Originally, the survey was scheduled to close on April 30, but has now been extended through June 6, 2016.

In December 2015, the American Gastroenterological Association released the results of a survey it commissioned called “IBS in America” Over 3000 people with IBS and over 300 physicians, both gastroenterologists and primary care providers, were interviewed by marketing research company Gfk on behalf of AGA. The survey, which was financially supported by the pharmaceutical companies Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and Allergan plc, has since received considerable media attention and opportunities for IBS to be discussed among health care professionals.

Progress in societal supports for people with IBS:

Our peers, primarily from the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) community, are continuing decentralized but ongoing efforts to pass Restroom Access Acts, popularly known as Ally’s Law, in additional states.  These individual state laws, which to the best of my knowledge now number sixteen, have the common goal of allowing people with medical conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, that may cause urgent restroom needs, to use employee-only facilities in retail stores if no public restrooms are immediately available. As far as I am aware, no new state has been successful this past year in enacting a law, but publicity and advocacy continue to make more legislators and the public aware of the need. Search the Ally’s Law tag in the right sidebar to see previous posts and states where similar laws apply.

The IBS Network continues its ongoing efforts to prevent widespread closures of public toilets in various areas of the United Kingdom, and it continues to support and expand the availability of  local, in-person self-help/support groups for people with IBS throughout the country.

Last spring, Monash University in Australia, developers of the low-FODMAP diet that is effective for reducing symptoms for many people with IBS, launched a low-FODMAP certification program, whereby food product manufacturers whose products have been tested by Monash as appropriate for the diet, may display an official certification symbol to alert consumers. The number of products currently certified is small, but is of promising help to those in Australia and New Zealand who follow the low-FODMAP diet.

Progress in advocacy and awareness:

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and its grassroots arm, the Digestive Health Alliance  (IFFGD/DHA),  continued in the past year to shepherd the Functional GI and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act through its third attempt at passage by the U.S. House of Representatives, with the support of IBS Impact and other groups and individuals. After two previous attempts in the two previous Congresses,  it  was reintroduced in the the current 114th Congress under a different Act number, HR 2311, in June 2015 and has received bipartisan support from Representatives in several states.  See the Legislation category,  HR 231,1 HR 842 and HR 2239 subcategories in the right sidebar of this blog for more on this history of this important Act.  IFFGD has also been an ongoing advocate for veterans, who are disproportionately at risk for functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS.

In the past year, the IBS Network in the United Kingdom launched its “Not Just IBS” awareness campaign and Change.org petition addressed to all U.K. political parties and the National Medical Director advocating for specific changes to improve the lives of all those in the U.K. who have IBS.

IBS Impact launched a newly designed and updated main website in the fall of 2015 and the number of followers of this blog and our social media accounts continues to increase. Cumulatively, IBS Impact continues to reach readers in over 100 countries on every continent of the globe.

These are just a handful of examples of progress for the IBS community in the past year. Cumulatively, there are many more. Obviously, we still have very far to go before all people with IBS have all the medical and social supports that we need for fully productive lives, with or without IBS,  but we have come far as well. There are reasons for hope, especially if more of us do our part for self-advocacy and awareness in the years and IBS Awareness Months to come.


Representatives Cummings of Maryland and Davis of California Co-Sponsor HR 2239 for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders

October 10, 2012

UPDATE: HR 2239 did not pass in the 112th Congress. In February 2013, the Act was reintroduced in the 113th Congress as HR 842. Please see the March 2, 2013 post or click on the HR 842 category on the blog sidebar for updated information.

Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7) and Susan Davis (D-CA-53)  have recently become co-sponsors to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2011.

Representative Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th District, which includes parts of the city of Baltimore, Baltimore County and Howard County. According to Representative Cummings’ official website, he has a past record of supporting other legislation concerning health care for veterans. Persian Gulf era service members and veterans are disproportionately affected by functional gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS,  as discussed by this blog on August  12, 2011  and August 25, 2011.

Representative Davis represents California’s 53rd District, which includes much of San Diego County, including about half of the city of San Diego and south to the U.S-Mexico border, Lemon Grove, Imperial Beach and Coronado. According to Representative Davis’ official website, she is the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and has a past history of supporting much legislation on behalf of veterans, as well as health care, including medical research budgets for the National Institutes of Health, and women’s issues. In most countries, women comprise approximately two-thirds of adults with IBS.

If you are a constituent of Representative Cummings or Representative Davis, please take a few minutes to write or call with your thanks for the support of HR 2239.

In officially supporting HR 2239, Representative Cummings and Representative Davis  join the lead sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative James Moran (D-VA-8), Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24),  Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2), Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2),  Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22),  Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7), Representative David Price (D-NC-4), Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI-2), Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3), Representative Dan Boren, (D-OK-2), and Representative Bill Posey  (R-FL 15)   U.S. citizens residing in the districts of Representative Cummings’ and Representative Davis’  colleagues listed here, please thank them as well.

According to the information on THOMAS, the Library of Congress legislative database, it appears that the bill is currently under consideration in the Subcommittee on Health. If you would like to see a list of the members of that Subcommittee, click here and scroll down to the fourth subcommittee listing.

U. S. citizens, if your Member of Congress is not yet a co-sponsor of HR 2239 and you have not contacted him or her recently to ask for his or her support,  please see these previous posts from July 6, 2011 and March 6, 2012 for links to the bill and more details on how to do so.  Often, it takes multiple attempts to elicit any interest from legislators, so if you do not receive a reply, do not hesitate to try again or to switch contact methods until you attract attention.

Your personal experiences as a person with IBS and/or other functional GI/motility disorders, or as a concerned family member, friend or colleague, are most effective in communicating to legislators and their staff that there are real human beings behind the statistics. However, even general expressions of support are helpful.

HR 2239 is bipartisan legislation (supported by members of both parties) and according to IFFGD discussions with IBS Impact,  is “revenue-neutral,” meaning that there will be no additional taxes or spending added to the current federal deficit if it is enacted. Discretionary funds are available at the National Institutes of Health to be allocated if Congress directs NIH, through this Act, that functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders are a priority. Congress will only do so if we, as a community, are able to show them the importance of the research, education and FDA coordination provided for in HR 2239.

NIH grants funding to researchers throughout the world, not just in the U.S., so in the long run, enactment of this Act may also benefit readers with IBS in other countries. Medical research also sometimes involves multinational teams of scientists, and in any case, study results are usually published globally, adding to the cumulative knowledge worldwide.

It is IBS Impact’s understanding that HR 2239 will most likely not require a debate or vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, and will pass as soon as it reaches 219 sponsor/cosponsors, or a simple majority of the House. In order for this milestone to be accomplished during the current Congress, the 112th,  the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2012. Beginning in January 2013, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of the upcoming 2012 elections. Thus, a similar bill will have to be reintroduced and the FGIMD community will have to start the process of gathering cosponsors anew. As of October 2012, IFFGD/DHA has advised IBS Impact that reintroduction is expected sometime in 2013. While it is quite common for legislation of various sorts to take several Congresses to pass, our continuing advocacy now can increase awareness, build momentum and perhaps accelerate passage. It is in our hands.

Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Yahoo discussion group for further updates on HR 2239 as they occur.


Representative Posey of Florida Co-Sponsors HR 2239 for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders

August 12, 2012

UPDATE: HR 2239 did not pass in the 112th Congress. In February 2013, the Act was reintroduced in the 113th Congress as HR 842. Please see the March 2, 2013 post or click on the HR 842 category on the blog sidebar for updated information.

Representative Bill Posey (R-FL-15) has recently become a co-sponsor to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2011.

Representative Posey represents Florida’s 15th District.  This includes most of Brevard County south of the city of Cocoa, Indian River County, most of Osceola County, and a small portion of Northern Polk County. Some notable cities in the district are Vero Beach, Kissimmee, St. Cloud, Merritt Island, The City of Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Palm Bay and Melbourne.

If you are a constituent of Representative Posey, please take a few minutes to write or call him with your thanks for his support of HR 2239.

In officially supporting HR 2239, Representative Posey joins the lead sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative James Moran (D-VA-8), Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), and Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2), Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2),  Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22),  Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7), Representative David Price (D-NC-4), Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI-2), Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3), and Representative Dan Boren, (D-OK-2)  U.S. citizens residing in the districts of Representative Posey’s colleagues listed here, please thank them as well.

According to the information on THOMAS, the Library of Congress legislative database, it appears that the bill is currently under consideration in the Subcommittee on Health. If you would like to see a list of the members of that Subcommittee, click here and scroll down to the fourth subcommittee listing.

U. S. citizens, if your Member of Congress is not yet a co-sponsor of HR 2239 and you have not contacted him or her recently to ask for his or her support,  please see these previous posts from July 6, 2011 and March 6, 2012 for links to the bill and more details on how to do so.  Often, it takes multiple attempts to elicit any interest from legislators, so if you do not receive a reply, do not hesitate to try again or to switch contact methods until you attract attention.

As of this writing, Congress is currently on recess until early September. Most legislators leave Washington, DC and return to their home districts during these breaks in legislative business, and often schedule local events or constituent appointments during part of that time. These may be opportunities to interact with your Representative in your own community or one nearby.

Your personal experiences as a person with IBS and/or other functional GI/motility disorders, or as a concerned family member, friend or colleague, are most effective in communicating to legislators and their staff that there are real human beings behind the statistics. However, even general expressions of support are helpful.

HR 2239 is bipartisan legislation (supported by members of both parties) and according to IFFGD discussions with IBS Impact,  is “revenue-neutral,” meaning that there will be no additional taxes or spending added to the current federal deficit if it is enacted. Discretionary funds are available at the National Institutes of Health to be allocated if Congress directs NIH, through this Act, that functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders are a priority. Congress will only do so if we, as a community, are able to show them the importance of the research, education and FDA coordination provided for in HR 2239.

NIH grants funding to researchers throughout the world, not just in the U.S., so in the long run, enactment of this Act may also benefit readers with IBS in other countries. Medical research also sometimes involves multinational teams of scientists, and in any case, study results are usually published globally, adding to the cumulative knowledge worldwide.

It is IBS Impact’s understanding that HR 2239 will most likely not require a debate or vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, and will pass as soon as it reaches 219 sponsor/cosponsors, or a simple majority of the House. In order for this milestone to be accomplished during the current Congress, the 112th,  the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2012. Beginning in January 2013, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of the upcoming 2012 elections. Thus, a similar bill will have to be reintroduced and the FGIMD community will have to start the process of gathering cosponsors anew. While it is quite common for legislation of various sorts to take several Congresses to pass, our continuing advocacy now can increase awareness, build momentum and perhaps accelerate passage. It is in our hands.

Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Yahoo discussion group for further updates on HR 2239 as they occur.


Representative Boren of Oklahoma Co-Sponsors HR 2239 for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders

July 23, 2012

UPDATE: HR 2239 did not pass in the 112th Congress. In February 2013, the Act was reintroduced in the 113th Congress as HR 842. Please see the March 2, 2013 post or click on the HR 842 category on the blog sidebar for updated information.

On the heels of two other new co-sponsors the previous week, Representative Dan Boren (D-OK-2) has become a co-sponsor to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2011. The recent momentum in new support is gratifying.

Representative Boren represents Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District, covering about a quarter of the state in eastern Oklahoma. This large district includes part of Rogers County and all of Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Craig, Delaware, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, Latimer, LeFlore, Mayes , McCurtain, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Ottawa, Pittsburg, Pushmataha, and Sequoyah Counties.

If you are a constituent of Representative  Boren, please take a few minutes to write or call him with your thanks for his support of HR 2239.

In officially supporting HR 2239, Representative Boren joins the lead sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative James Moran (D-VA-8), Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), and Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2), Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2),  Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22),  Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7), Representative David Price (D-NC-4), Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI-2) and Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3). U.S. citizens residing in the districts of Representative Boren’s colleagues listed here, please thank them as well.

According to the information on THOMAS, the Library of Congress legislative database, it appears that the bill is currently under consideration in the Subcommittee on Health. If you would like to see a list of the members of that Subcommittee, click here and scroll down to the fourth subcommittee listing.

U. S. citizens, if your Member of Congress is not yet a co-sponsor of HR 2239 and you have not contacted him or her recently to ask for his or her support,  please see these previous posts from July 6, 2011 and March 6, 2012 for links to the bill and more details on how to do so.  Often, it takes multiple attempts to elicit any interest from legislators, so if you do not receive a reply, do not hesitate to try again or to switch contact methods until you attract attention.

Your personal experiences as a person with IBS and/or other functional GI/motility disorders, or as a concerned family member, friend or colleague, are most effective in communicating to legislators and their staff that there are real human beings behind the statistics. However, even general expressions of support are helpful.

HR 2239 is bipartisan legislation (supported by members of both parties) and according to IFFGD discussions with IBS Impact,  is “revenue-neutral,” meaning that there will be no additional taxes or spending added to the current federal deficit if it is enacted. Discretionary funds are available at the National Institutes of Health to be allocated if Congress directs NIH, through this Act, that functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders are a priority. Congress will only do so if we, as a community, are able to show them the importance of the research, education and FDA coordination provided for in HR 2239.

NIH grants funding to researchers throughout the world, not just in the U.S., so in the long run, enactment of this Act may also benefit readers with IBS in other countries. Medical research also sometimes involves multinational teams of scientists, and in any case, study results are usually published globally, adding to the cumulative knowledge worldwide.

It is IBS Impact’s understanding that HR 2239 will most likely not require a debate or vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, and will pass as soon as it reaches 219 sponsor/cosponsors, or a simple majority of the House. In order for this milestone to be accomplished during the current Congress, the 112th,  the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2012. Beginning in January 2013, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of the upcoming 2012 elections. Thus, a similar bill will have to be reintroduced and the FGIMD community will have to start the process of gathering cosponsors anew. While it is quite common for legislation of various sorts to take several Congresses to pass, our continuing advocacy now can increase awareness, build momentum and perhaps accelerate passage. It is in our hands.

Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Yahoo discussion group for further updates on HR 2239 as they occur.


Representatives Hirono of Hawai’i and Kind of Wisconsin Co-Sponsor HR 2239 for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders

July 16, 2012

UPDATE: HR 2239 did not pass in the 112th Congress. In February 2013, the Act was reintroduced in the 113th Congress as HR 842. Please see the March 2, 2013 post or click on the HR 842 category on the blog sidebar for updated information.

Last week IFFGD reported that Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI-2) and Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3) have signed on as cosponsors to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2011.

Representative Hirono’s district, the 2nd Congressional District of Hawai’i, encompasses the northern and western parts of the island of Oahu, and the islands of Hawai‘i,  Kaua‘i, Lana‘i, Maui, Molokai, and Kaho‘olawe, and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. She is a member of the House Rural Health Care Coalition. Representative Kind’s district, the 3rd Congressional District of Wisconsin, represents the western part of the state, including La Crosse, Eau Claire and Platteville. He is a member of the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee of Ways and Means. Both also have a record of supporting legislation of concern to veterans. As previously discussed on this blog on August 12, 2011 and August 25, 2011, military service members and veterans are at disproportionately high risk for functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, which are already very common in the general population

If you are a constituent of Representative Hirono or Representative Kind, please take a few minutes to write or call her or him with your thanks for the support of HR 2239.

In officially supporting HR 2239, Representative Hirono and Representative Kind join the lead sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative James Moran (D-VA-8), Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), and Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2), Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2),  Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22),  Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7), and Representative David Price (D-NC-4). U.S. citizens residing in the districts of Representative Hirono and Representative Kind’s colleagues listed here, please thank them as well.

According to the information on THOMAS, it appears that the bill is currently under consideration in the Subcommittee on Health. If you would like to see a list of the members of that Subcommittee, click here and scroll down to the fourth subcommittee listing.

U. S. citizens, if your Member of Congress is not yet a co-sponsor of HR 2239 and you have not contacted him or her recently to ask for his or her support,  please see these previous posts from July 6, 2011 and March 6, 2012 for links to the bill and more details on how to do so.  Often, it takes multiple attempts to elicit any interest from legislators, so if you do not receive a reply, do not hesitate to try again or to switch contact methods until you attract attention.

Your personal experiences as a person with IBS and/or other functional GI/motility disorders, or as a concerned family member, friend or colleague, are most effective in communicating to legislators and their staff that there are real human beings behind the statistics. However, even general expressions of support are helpful.

HR 2239 is bipartisan legislation (supported by members of both parties) and according to IFFGD discussions with IBS Impact,  is “revenue-neutral,” meaning that there will be no additional taxes or spending added to the current federal deficit if it is enacted. Discretionary funds are available at the National Institutes of Health to be allocated if Congress directs NIH, through this Act, that functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders are a priority. Congress will only do so if we, as a community, are able to show them the importance of the research, education and FDA coordination provided for in HR 2239.

NIH grants funding to researchers throughout the world, not just in the U.S., so in the long run, enactment of this Act may also benefit readers with IBS in other countries. Medical research also sometimes involves multinational teams of scientists, and in any case, study results are usually published globally, adding to the cumulative knowledge worldwide.

It is IBS Impact’s understanding that HR 2239 will most likely not require a debate or vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, and will pass as soon as it reaches 219 sponsor/cosponsors, or a simple majority of the House. In order for this milestone to be accomplished during the current Congress, the 112th,  the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2012. Beginning in January 2013, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of the upcoming 2012 elections. Thus, a similar bill will have to be reintroduced and the FGIMD community will have to start the process of gathering cosponsors anew. While it is quite common for legislation of various sorts to take several Congresses to pass, our continuing advocacy now can increase awareness, build momentum and perhaps accelerate passage. It is in our hands.

Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Yahoo discussion group for further updates on HR 2239 as they occur.


IFFGD/DHA Congressional Call-In Day for IBS/Functional GI Research is June 12, 2012

June 5, 2012

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and its grassroots arm, the Digestive Health Alliance, have scheduled next Tuesday, June 12, 2012 as Congressional Call-In Day for this year. U.S. citizens with IBS and/or other functional GI disorders and their families and friends are all urged to contact their members of the federal House of Representatives by phone or email on the same day to urge support of HR 2239, the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act, which has been under consideration in Congress since June 2011. The coordination of many voices on the same time will create a more unified and noticeable impact on ongoing advocacy efforts.

HR 2239 is currently supported by 11 members of the House of Representatives from both political parties and 8 states. They are lead sponsor Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative James Moran (D-VA-8), Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), and Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2), Representative Tammy Baldwin, (D-WI-2), Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22), Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7) and Representative David Price (D-NC-4).

HR 2239 needs the support of 218 members, a simple majority of the House, by December 2012 to pass during this Congressional session. If it does not,  because the upcoming 2012 elections will change the composition of legislators, the new Congress being seated in 2013 will have to reintroduce the Act under a new bill number and the functional GI community will need to begin the process of gathering co-sponsors anew. While it is not unusual for any type of legislation to require several years and multiple Congresses to pass, the IBS/functional GI disorders community’s consistent public advocacy can raise awareness and perhaps accelerate the process. It is IBS Impact’s understanding that HR 2239 is  “revenue neutral” legislation, meaning that no new spending or taxes will be added. By passing this Act, Congress can direct the U.S. National Institutes of Health to allocate to functional GI and motility disorders discretionary funds that already exist  within the NIH budget.

U.S. citizen readers, if you have not yet contacted your Representative or you contacted him or her some time ago without securing his or her official co-sponsorship, IBS Impact encourages you to do so on Congressional Call-In Day. If you are represented by a Member of Congress who already supports HR 2239, as listed in the second paragraph of this post, please take the opportunity to say thank you on that day, Tuesday, June 12.

Click on the following link to visit DHA’s website page for Congressional Call-In Day. For the latest HR 2239 update on this blog please see the April 20, 2012 post Background information and links on HR 2239 can be found in the July 6, 2011 post. For those who would like to share a Congressional Call-In Day graphic with family and friends on social media, or print it out to distribute or hang, at the request of and with the permission of IFFGD/DHA, IBS Impact has uploaded the official DHA graphic to the photos section of the IBS Impact Facebook page where it can be downloaded or shared easily.


Representatives Perlmutter of Colorado and Price of North Carolina Co-Sponsor HR 2239 for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders

April 20, 2012

UPDATE: HR 2239 did not pass in the 112th Congress. In February 2013, the Act was reintroduced in the 113th Congress as HR 842. Please see the March 2, 2013 post or click on the HR 842 category on the blog sidebar for updated information.

According to THOMAS, the Library of Congress legislative database, and IFFGD, Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7) and Representative David Price (D-NC-4) have signed on as co-sponsors to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2011.

Representative Perlmutter’s district, the 7th Congressional District of Colorado,  encompasses parts of Jefferson, Adams and Arapahoe Counties in the central part of Colorado, including many northern and western suburbs of Denver.

Representative  Price’s district, the 4th Congressional District of North Carolina covers the Triangle region, including Durham County, Orange County and parts of Wake and Chatham Counties.

If you are a constituent of Representative Perlmutter or Representative Price, please take a few minutes to write or call him with your thanks for his support of HR 2239.

In officially supporting HR 2239, Representative Perlmutter and Representative Price  join the lead sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative James Moran (D-VA-8), Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), and Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2), Representative Tammy Baldwin, (D-WI-2), Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22), Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19) and Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4)

According to the information on THOMAS, it appears that the bill is currently under consideration in the Subcommittee on Health. If you would like to see a list of the members of that Subcommittee, click here and scroll down to the fourth subcommittee listing.

U. S. citizens, if your Member of Congress is not yet a co-sponsor of HR 2239 and you have not contacted him or her recently to ask for his or her support,  please see these previous post from July 6, 2011 for links to the bill and more details on how to do so.  Often, it takes multiple attempts to elicit any interest from legislators, so if you do not receive a reply, do not hesitate to try again or to switch contact methods until you attract attention.

Your personal experiences as a person with IBS and/or other functional GI/motility disorders, or as a concerned family member, friend or colleague, are most effective in communicating to legislators and their staff that there are real human beings behind the statistics. However, even general expressions of support are helpful.

HR 2239 is bipartisan legislation (supported by members of both parties) and according to IFFGD discussions with IBS Impact,  is “revenue-neutral,” meaning that there will be no additional taxes or spending added to the current federal deficit if it is enacted. Discretionary funds are available at the National Institutes of Health to be allocated if Congress directs NIH, through this Act, that functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders are a priority. Congress will only do so if we, as a community, are able to show them the importance of the research, education and FDA coordination provided for in HR 2239.

It is IBS Impact’s understanding that HR 2239 will most likely not require a debate or vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, and will pass as soon as it reaches 219 sponsor/cosponsors, or a simple majority of the House. In order for this milestone to be accomplished during the current Congress, the 112th,  the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2012. Beginning in January 2013, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of the upcoming 2012 elections. Thus, a similar bill will have to be reintroduced and the FGIMD community will have to start the process of gathering cosponsors anew. While it is quite common for legislation of various sorts to take several Congresses to pass, our continuing advocacy now can increase awareness, build momentum and perhaps accelerate passage. It is in our hands.

Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Yahoo discussion group for further updates on HR 2239 as they occur.