A piece of research has suggested that America’s role in the financing of global biomedical research is declining.
The study by the Boston Consulting Group and Partnering Health-Care Institution revealed a decline in the growth of spending on biomedical research and health service innovation, from 6 per cent per year from 1994 through to 2004 to 0.8 per cent per year from 2004 through to 2012. That decline was reflected in the country’s global influence. Although the US still has a strong lead in absolute terms, some observers are speculating that China’s total investment could bypass US spending in the next decade.
Sarah Cairns-Smith, PhD, a senior partner with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and a co-author of the study said: “We were struck by the fact that rather than doubling down on research during this golden age of biomedical science, US funding growth is declining, and, in real terms, funding for early-stage research is falling. “Given current trends, the US risks failing to reap the benefits of previous medical advances and relinquishing its historical international leadership in medical innovation.”
“The natural cycle is for funding in basic biology to crack open areas for therapeutic innovation. “We’re seeing that now play through in areas such as HIV and cancer, but if we don’t fund other basic research sufficiently, our time line for addressing highly debilitating diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia stretches out.” The study is based on publicly available data from the US and the 40 largest developed nations. The analysis was performed by BCG, Alerion Advisors, John Hopkins Medicine and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “We were struck by the fact that rather than doubling down on research during this golden age of biomedical science, US funding growth is declining, and, in real terms, funding for early-stage research is falling.” Sarah Cairns-Smith, PhD Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group
Major findings included:
From 2004 through 2012, US government research funding declined from 57 per cent to 50 per cent of the global total, and that of US companies declined from 50 per cent to 41 per cent. Industry accounted for 58 per cent of US research funding in 2012, an increase in share from 46 per cent in 1994, but it also shifted investment away from early-stage activity to late-phase clinical trials. Industry funding has increasingly focused on commercially attractive therapeutics for cancer and rare diseases. As the US share of global research funding declined, spending in Asia increased dramatically from 2004 through to 2012. Total spending increased from $1.6 billion to $14.6 billion, and spending by China tripled to $4.9 billion from $1.6 billion. China’s investment in the science and technology workforce has been especially strong. The US share of patents, often cited as a key measure of research output, also declined from 73 per cent to 59 per cent of the most valuable patents from 1981 through to 2012. Funding for health services innovation would increase $8 billion to $15 billion yearly if firms would increase their innovation funding to even the levels reached by other industries in the top in 20 for R&D spending. Private insurers ranked last and health systems ranked nineteenth among 22 industries in their investment in innovation.