Publicly-funded drug research spawned 153 new drugs

Just as lawmakers begin a big debate over proposals to shave billions of dollars out of the NIH budget, a new study is giving fodder to advocates of federally financed drug research. The study in the New England Journal of Medicine determined that publicly financed research programs have spawned 153 new therapeutic entities over the past forty years, breaking it down to 93 small-molecule therapies, 36 biologicals, 15 vaccines, eight diagnostic tools and one OTC drug.

"Not only do federal funding programs, such as those from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, advance the scientific knowledge base of the country, but they contribute practical advances that can help people and create economic opportunity," said study author Ashley J. Stevens, a lecturer at the Boston University School of Medicine.

The public has helped finance the development of some of the world's biggest blockbusters, including game-changers like Remicade for rheumatoid arthritis and the pain drug Lyrica. The scientific research community wasted no time in seizing on the report to illustrate just how important federal financing is to the field.

"Long-term flat funding or, worse, a reduction in funds for biomedical research and cancer research will slow research progress and squander invaluable scientific opportunities to the detriment of our nation's health, our fragile economy and our global competitiveness," said Jon Retzlaff, managing director of science policy and government affairs at the American Association for Cancer Research.

- here's the story from HealthDay