By Israel Rocha, CEO, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance
September 15 marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to pay tribute to the generations of Hispanics who have enriched America’s history. It’s also an important time to consider how this community can be further empowered to make important contributions, particularly in the future of health care.
Research demonstrates that certain diseases disproportionately impact the Hispanic community, including diabetes, liver cancer, cervical cancer and HIV/AIDS. Clinical trials help researchers find better ways to diagnose, prevent and treat these diseases and others. However, Hispanics are significantly underrepresented in clinical trials. Despite representing 16 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanics comprise only 1 percent of clinical trial participants.
Given this historic underrepresentation, there is tremendous opportunity to boost clinical trial participation within diverse patient populations. According to a July 2013 study by Research!America:
- More than 40 percent of Hispanics greatly admire clinical trial participants.
- More than 2/3 of Hispanics would be willing to share health information to help researchers find better ways to prevent and treat disease.
- Nearly half of the Hispanics polled rate a physician’s recommendation to participate in a clinical trial as very important.
Pending Budget Cuts will Further Jeopardize Global Leadership in Research and Innovation
WASHINGTON, DC—October 25, 2012—Biomedical and health research and development (R&D) spending from all sources declined by more than $4 billion or 3% between FY10 and FY11 according to Research!America’s 2011 U.S. Investment in Health Research report. This represents the first drop in overall spending since Research!America began compiling the data in 2002.
The decline follows an uptick in research funding attributed to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which allocated $10.4 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over two fiscal years (2009-2010). The overall downward trend in R&D spending is coming at a time when other nations are ramping up their own investments in research, and meanwhile, pending across-the-board budget cuts (sequestration) could reduce federal biomedical and health research funding by 8%-10% or more.
“Insufficient funding, coupled with deep budget cuts under sequestration, could be devastating for research,” said Research!America’s chair, former Congressman John E. Porter. “Our global competitiveness hinges on a robust investment that will support bright scientific minds, create high-quality jobs and provide a catalyst for private sector innovation.”
Research!America’s 2011 U.S. Investment in Health Research report shows varying levels of health research funding in the private and public sector. For example, federal funding for research totaled $39.5 billion in FY11, a 14% decrease from the previous year’s total of $45.9 billion. Agency funds were distributed across all 50 states to hospitals, universities, independent research institutes and small businesses. Under sequestration, the NIH would lose $2.53 billion in funding in FY13.
“As R&D spending abroad outpaces federal investments here at home, U.S. companies will set up shop in countries with stronger policies to support research,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “We cannot afford to become complacent as cures for Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and other serious health threats remain a priority for every American.”
Overall, private industry has continually increased investments in R&D — a total of $77.6 billion in 2011, a 1.4% increase from 2010, despite inflationary pressure and the economic recession. The pharmaceutical industry increased its investment to $38.5 billion, a 3% increase from the previous year. In contrast, biotechnology investment declined by nearly $800 million, or 3%. The medical device and technology sector slightly increased investment in research, totaling $9.8 billion. Currently, more than 80% of R&D among PhRMA member companies is conducted in the United States, but R&D spending abroad has more than doubled over the past decade.
Aside from federal and industry investment, other institutions spent $19.1 billion on health research, an increase of about 5% from the previous year. Universities increased spending of institutional funds for research to $11.9 billion in 2010, a 6% increase. Philanthropic spending decreased slightly, while voluntary health groups increased investment in research by 15%, or $131 million, from the prior year.
According to funding projections in the report, the research investment landscape could worsen in 2013 and over the next decade. The scenario is different in other countries; as just one example, China has identified biotechnology as one of the seven “strategic and emerging (SEI) pillar” industries and has pledged to invest $308.5 billion in biotechnology over the next 5 years. Overall, the report provides analysis that outlines health research as one of the underpinnings of the U.S. economy and a key to improving the health of Americans.
Research!America has issued estimates of the US investment in health research since 2002. All reports in the series are available online at www.researchamerica.org/research_investment.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has launched a new initiative which focuses on the myriad benefits of health and medical research, particularly as it relates to patient care. The initiative, titled From Hope to Cures, uses patient videos as well as statistical evidence and graphics to illustrate how the billions of dollars spent by pharmaceutical companies on research are extending and enriching the lives of millions of people.
This new initiative represents a push for research, progress, and hope. There are numerous items on the initiative’s website including links to articles ranging from drug discovery and development to a study which predicts substantial growth in the healthcare job industry by 2020.
Although these articles provide useful information about health and medical research as a worthwhile investment, the truly remarkable content lies in the patient videos. Susan Parkinson, a survivor of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, recounts her tale of doctors immediately identifying the disease after a CAT scan and getting her into chemotherapy treatment within a week. She credits the chemotherapy and radiation treatments with saving her life and ensuring that she would be around to raise her children. She also noted that 20years ago, these treatments were not available. Thanks to the dedicated work of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, Susan will be able to watch her children grow into adulthood. The video ends with this important message — “981 new medicines and vaccines are currently in development to fight cancer.”
This type of inspirational story becomes even more poignant when considering the potential impact of the automatic spending cuts for federal agencies scheduled to take effect in January 2013. The loss of funding for medical and health research will greatly affect everyone — scientists, doctors, patients, and the families of those struggling with disease. As evidenced in Susan’s story, research is ultimately the difference between life and death.
PhRMA, a member of the Research!America alliance, represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical industry research and biotechnology companies.