The Executive Board disapproved a recommendation to continue direct AVMA financial support to the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force. The board did, nevertheless, approve the appointment of a liaison representative, Dr. Joan M. Samuels, to the task force. The AVMA will continue to provide staff and meeting support to the task force.
The task force was created in 1996 as a joint effort of the AVMA, American Animal Hospital Association, American Association of Feline Practitioners, and Veterinary Cancer Society. Since then, the task force has brought financial and scientific resources to bear on the problem of vaccine-associated feline sarcomas, through educational efforts and by funding almost $751,000 in research.
Although considerable research has been conducted, the task force says that the sarcoma problem has not been resolved. Task force members are concerned that dissolution of the task force at this time could be perceived by cat owners as abandonment of the veterinary profession's responsibility.
To continue its mission, the task force asked for funding commitments of $15,000 per year from each of the four founding organizations. In July 2002, the board disapproved a recommendation for direct funding of the task force, and this past fall, the task force submitted the grant request to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. The AVMF board of directors disapproved the request, but the AVMF is funding a $75,000 research grant that includes the risks of adverse reactions to vaccines. Subsequently, AVMA Executive Board members received requests for reconsideration.
The November recommendation came from Executive Board Chair James H. Brandt and board member, Dr. Gregory S. Hammer, who said, "We proposed this because of requests from the other funding groups."
During deliberations, one board member said the AVMA did its part by starting the investigations and investing considerable funds already, but that being a multispecies organization, the Association should not continue ongoing funding of a single-species problem. Others felt the AVMA should continue to support it, since the problem results from a necessary medical intervention-vaccination.
The task force has said it will continue its work even without AVMA funding support, and it has enough funds for limited research.