$95 billion a year spent on medical research in US – JAMA

$95 billion a year spent on medical research in US – JAMA

Fri, 23 Sep 2005

A special issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, focuses on medical research spending and findings.

A study that examined US spending for medical research—$95 billion approaching $100 billion–57% is spent by industry, 28% by NIH.

But in an effort to answer whether this money is spent wisely–the answer is a resounding NO.

“The data in this article make it plain that we are spending huge amounts of money, more than any other country, to develop new drugs and devices and other treatments,” said Dan Fox, president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, a philanthropic group that works on health policy issues. “But we are not spending as much as we could to disseminate the most effective treatments and practices throughout the health system.”

The findings corroborate critics’ analyses that most medical research funds are spent on marketing non-essential, “me too” drugs and treatments, while neglecting to develop treatments for intractable diseases. The findings also confirm the continuing health risk posed by industry’s profit driven drug development.

Once a market has been created–even lethal drugs are aggressively marketed, mostly with false and misleading claims about their safety and efficacy–e.g., Vioxx and its class of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; Paxil and its class of antidepressants; Risperdal and Zyprexa and their class of antipsychotics.

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MSNBC.com
$95 billion a year spent on medical research
Report questions whether money is well spent on important diseases
The Associated Press
Sept. 20, 2005

CHICAGO – Total U.S. spending on medical research has doubled in the past decade to nearly $95 billion a year, though whether the money is being well spent needs much better scrutiny, a study has found.

The report in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association comes amid heightened public attention to medical research because of liability lawsuits over the painkiller Vioxx, political debate over stem cell research and the untapped potential of curing or preventing disease through mapping the human genome.

“If we’re soon going to be spending $100 billion a year, we’d better have treatments that work over a long period of time against diseases that are important today and will be more important tomorrow,” said Dr. Hamilton Moses III, co-author of the study and chairman of the Alerion Institute, which conducts studies on research policy.

“If we don’t know those conditions are satisfied, we can’t judge whether we’re getting our money’s worth,” he said.

The study is part of a special issue of JAMA devoted to the state of U.S. medical research. What emerges from the issue is a picture of an amorphous, mostly profit-driven system, where industry research focuses on existing drugs and lets discovery-stage research lag behind.

The authors call on the medical industry, government and foundations to do better at investing in research on diseases with fewer effective treatments, such as Alzheimer’s, and at translating basic research into new treatments and cures.

The authors have ties to the industry, medical schools and health companies, doing consulting work and sitting on drug company boards, according to financial disclosures published with the study.

Six cents to every dollar

The imbalance between late-stage and early-stage research is growing, the authors wrote, and is due partly to lengthy clinical trials required for new drug approval and partly to pure marketing. Companies often run costly studies to show their drugs work better than competitors’ drugs.

In their funding analysis, Moses and his colleagues found that the industry sponsors 57 percent of medical research and the National Institutes of Health pays for 28 percent. That proportion has remained unchanged over the past decade.

The analysis also found that the United States spends about six cents of every health care dollar on medical research. But the nation spends only one-tenth of a cent of every dollar on longer-term evaluation of which drugs and treatments work best at the lowest cost.

“The data in this article make it plain that we are spending huge amounts of money, more than any other country, to develop new drugs and devices and other treatments,” said Dan Fox, president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, a philanthropic group that works on health policy issues. “But we are not spending as much as we could to disseminate the most effective treatments and practices throughout the health system.”

In separate JAMA articles, National Institutes of Health Director Elias Zerhouni said genetics advancements and stem cell discoveries require teams of experts who haven’t worked together before, such as biologists and computer programmers, to convert basic science into new therapies.

And Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said threats such as terrorism and avian flu require more investment in health protection.

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© 2005 MSNBC.com

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