Few comprehensive analyses of the sources of financial support of biomedical research and uses of these funds have been available, according to background information in the article. This results in inadequate information on which to base investment decisions and can create a barrier to judging the value of research to society. Previous articles have examined specific sectors, but few have done so comprehensively.

Lead author Hamilton Moses III, M.D., and colleagues at the Alerion Institute in North Garden, Va., conducted a study to determine the level and trend from 1994 to 2004 of basic, translational (the application of knowledge of basic science research to clinical care), and clinical U.S. biomedical research support from the major sponsors of this research: federal government, state and local governments, private not-for-profit entities including foundations, and industry.

The researchers found that biomedical research funding increased from $37.1 billion in 1994 to $94.3 billion in 2003 and doubled when adjusted for inflation. Principal research sponsors in 2003 were industry (57 percent) and the National Institutes of Health (28 percent). Relative proportions from all public and private sources did not change. Industry sponsorship of clinical trials increased from $4.0 to $14.2 billion while federal proportions devoted to basic and applied research were unchanged.

The United States spent an estimated 5.6 percent of its total health expenditures on biomedical research, more than any other country, but less than 0.1 percent for health services research. From an economic perspective, biotechnology and medical device companies were most productive, as measured by new diagnostic and therapeutic devices per dollar of research and development cost.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Medical Association (AMA)