Publicly Funded Medical Research Pays Off

It saves thousands of lives and generates billions of dollars, U.S. study shows

THURSDAY, April 20, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. taxpayer dollars invested in medical research is money very well spent, a new study shows.

An analysis of just eight of the 28 phase III clinical trials supported by the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) between 1977 and 2000 shows they provided economic benefits of more than $15 billion.

More importantly, discoveries from these trials resulted in an estimated additional 470,000 healthy years of life for Americans, according to a study in the April 22 issue of The Lancet.

"The results of this analysis demonstrate the return of the public investment in NIH (National Institutes of Health) research for the American people not only in economic terms, but in additional healthy years of life," Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, NIH director, said in a prepared statement.

The review of all 28 phase III clinical trails supported by the NINDS during that time is one of the first to analyze the impact of publicly funded research programs on medical care, public health and health-care costs.

It found that the 10-year return on the investment ($335 million) in clinical trials funding was 4,600 percent and that the investment in most of the trials was returned through health benefits within 1.2 years after funding for a trial ended.

The projected economic benefits of the clinical trial program between 1977 and 2000 were more than $50 billion, far greater than the NIND's total budget of $29.5 billion over that same period, the study said.

"This study strongly suggests that, for this institute at least, the economic benefit from clinical trials more than offsets the total expenditures on clinical and basic research," Story C. Landis, NINDS director, said in a prepared statement.

The research was funded by the NINDS, which had no control over the content of the analysis, which was conducted independently. In addition, an independent panel of health policy experts audited the analysis and reviewed the manuscript.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about clinical trials.

Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Updated on April 21, 2006

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