Study: Biomedical research funding is slowing

After a decade of doubling, the rate of increase in biomedical research funding slowed between 2003 and 2007. Adjusting for inflation, the absolute level of funding from the NIH and industry appears to have decreased by 2 percent in 2008, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study found that total funding for biomedical research increased from $75.5 billion in 2003 to $101.1 billion in 2007. After adjusting for inflation, this represents an increase of 14 percent from 2003 to 2007. A previous study found that funding increased at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent for between 1994 and 2003, compared with a compound annual rate of 3.4 percent for 2003 to 2007. Compared with the previous study, biomedical research spending by industry fell from a compound annual growth rate (adjusted for inflation) of 8.1 percent from 1994 to 2003 compared with 5.8 percent for 2003 to 2007, Pharmalot notes.

Industry remains the largest contributor to biomedical research, accounting for 58 percent of all expenditures in 2007. The NIH is the second-largest contributor, accounting for 27 percent of expenditures, followed by state and local governments (5 percent), non-NIH federal sources (5 percent), and private not-for-profit support (4 percent), according to the study.

"Biomedical research captures the public's imagination. It serves many masters and is highly valued as a source of new and more effective treatments for common or devastating diseases," the authors note. In the coming years, "debate will likely increase between those who view technology as a source of additional cost and those who view it as a source of value. The research community should be mindful of how others view it and take aggressive steps to enhance its own productivity."

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