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Medical research is essential to improving the economy and bettering lives
Date:5/6/2008

Washington, DC (Monday, May 5, 2008) Health care in the United States is expensive, but its funding is crucial because it also is a major contributor to the economy and can better lives, according to an essay appearing in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN). Because of the cost of health care, this is not time to shrink the budget at the National Institutes of Health, which funds medical research that leads to potentially curative therapy.

As the US population increases, health care costs are sure to rise. To help stem rising health care costs, government officials are taking money away from Medicare and Medicaid programs, and budget planners are reducing the funds used to support medical science. But experts question this strategy, noting that health care employs a large segment of the national workforce (and is, therefore, a fundamental feature of the economy) and medical research is a critical enterprise that over the long run will provide more affordable health careso called high technology, as Lewis Thomas once phrased it.

Dr. Eric Neilson, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, TN, addresses these concerns in JASN, pointing to clear examples of how investments in health care and medical research can pay off. He notes that the human papillomavirus vaccine, the antibiotic elimination of H. pyloriinduced peptic ulcer disease, and the all-trans-retinoic acid cure of promyelocytic leukemia are all cost-effective advances that have improved lives and lowered costs. Of course, these advances took years to achieve, and long-term robust funding of research was necessary for their potential to be realized.

Dr. Neilson admits that many aspects of health care are not cost-effectivefor example, the sluggish economic productivity of the doctor-patient relationship is a
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Contact: Shari Leventhal
sleventhal@asn-online.org
202-416-0658
American Society of Nephrology
Source:Eurekalert  

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