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Money for Biomedical Research Cut in Recent Years

New review provides data on sources of public and private funds

FRIDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- From 2005 to 2008, the level of funding for biomedical research in the United States appears to have decreased by 2 percent, a new study shows.

The same review also found that the rate of increase in funding has slowed since 2005.

An analysis of data showed that funding of biomedical research by federal, state and local government, and private and industry sources increased from $75.5 billion in 2003 to $101.1 billion in 2007, an inflation-adjusted increase of 14 percent.

"In our previous study, funding increased at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent for 1994-2003 compared with a compound annual rate of 3.4 percent for 2003-2007," wrote Dr. E. Ray Dorsey, of the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., and colleagues.

For 2008, biomedical funding data were available only for the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and industry. The total was $88.8 billion.

"The corresponding total for 2007 for the NIH and industry was $86.4 billion and when adjusted to 2008 dollars is $90.2 billion, indicating that real [adjusted for inflation] funding for biomedical research from the NIH and industry decreased from $90.2 billion in 2007 to $88.8 billion in 2008," the researchers wrote.

Industry was the largest contributor to biomedical research in 2007 (58 percent), while the NIH was the second-largest contributor (27 percent). From 2003 to 2007, inflation-adjusted funding from pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies increased 25 percent, while NIH funding decreased by 8.6 percent and total federal government funding increased by 0.7 percent, the study found.

In 2007, the United States spent about 4.5 percent of its total health expenditures on biomedical research. From 2003 to 2008, there was no increase in the number of new drugs and medical devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"Biomedical research is valued highly by individuals, governments, foundations and corporations. Research is seen as a source of more effective treatments and preventive measures and as a route to political policy, economic development, and new commercial products," the study authors wrote.

"While the promise of new drugs for refractory common or devastating diseases continues to capture the public's imagination and enjoys strong support, policy makers are also aware that new beneficial technology often spawns new cost. Consequently, timely and accurate information about the sources of public and private research funds is important," they added.

The study is published in the Jan. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

The National Association for Biomedical Research has more about the benefits of biomedical research.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, Jan. 12, 2010

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