Lack of funding limits medical research in the US

The United States may lose its international lead in medical research in the next decade given current trends in medical research funding, according to a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Between 2004 and 2012, U.S. government funding for medical research has declined from 57 percent to 50 percent of the global total. U.S. companies also decreased funding during the eight-year span from 50 percent to 41 percent, meaning the total U.S. share of global medical research funding, including public and private funds, dropped from 57 percent to 44 percent, according to the report.

Meanwhile, countries in Asia — particularly China — have roughly tripled their investments in education and personnel for medical research from $2.6 billion in 2004 to $9.7 billion in 2012.

The total U.S. investment in science may have increased 6 percent between 1994 and 2004, but the rate of growth declined to just 0.8 percent a year between 2004 and 2012. Of the nation's total healthcare expenditures — $117 billion — only 0.3 percent, or $5 billion, is allotted to health services research.

The study authors argue that, ultimately, new investments and sources of funding for medical research are required to fully realize past scientific discoveries and opportunities to improve care.

"Sources could include repatriation of foreign capital, new innovation bonds, administrative savings, patent pools and public-private risk sharing collaborations," according to the study authors. "Given international trends, the United States will relinquish its historical international lead in the next decade unless such measures are undertaken."


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