NIH funding helped 210 new drugs to the market between 2010 and 2016: 4 findings

Studies backed by the National Institutes of Health contributed to the science that underlies every one of the 210 new drugs approved between 2010 and 2016, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, cited by STAT.

For the study, a team of researchers from Waltham, Mass.-based Bentley University analyzed millions of research papers for mentions of the 210 new molecular entities and their molecular targets. Then, they researched to see which of those studies received funding from the NIH.

Here are four study findings.

1. The NIH granted more than $100 billion in funding toward research that contributed, either directly or indirectly, to the 210 novel drugs approved over the six-year period.

2. Of the 210 approved new molecular entities, 84 were first-in-class drugs. This means they treat a disease through a never-before-seen mechanism or molecular target.

"First-in-class drugs are of particular importance, since they represent significant innovations arising from basic research to identify new drug targets," said one of the study's authors Fred Ledley, MD, according to STAT.

3. The most common source of NIH funding that helped the 210 new drugs reach the market was an R01 grant, which supports health-related research. The NIH gave out nearly 119,000 R01 grants related to those drugs.

4. A large majority (90 percent) of the research was related to the biological targets of the drugs, not the drugs themselves. As a result of this finding, the study authors concluded that NIH funding for basic science complements industry research.

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