Americans Optimistic About Future Medical Breakthroughs, Concerned That Not Enough Progress Is Being Made

Public Favors Increase in Medical Research Spending
Friday, November 16, 2007

WASHINGTON—Nov. 16, 2007—Although nearly three quarters of Americans expect breakthroughs in treatments for diabetes, cancer and heart disease over the next decade, a majority of Americans (57%) believe we are not making enough progress in medical research, according to a survey conducted for Research!America and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

The survey is being presented today at "Transforming Health: Fulfilling the Promise of Research," a conference in Washington, DC, featuring keynote speaker Elias Zerhouni, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health.

The survey also found that, while 74% of Americans say the United States is a global leader in medical research, they would like to see spending on medical research increased.

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley noted that just 57% of survey respondents say health-related research has helped them or someone close to them. "We see a disconnect between expectations for medical research and appreciating its real-life benefits that help Americans and their loved ones every day," said Woolley.

Further, although 95% of Americans consider clinical trials to be valuable and more than half (57%) maintain they are likely to participate in such a trial, only 7% say their doctors have suggested that they participate in them, the survey found. According to Woolley, this must change in order for innovation to keep pace with expectations.

PhRMA President and CEO Billy Tauzin said, "Clearly, the future looks bright, with new medicines, new treatments, and a better understanding of what causes disease and what may be done to halt it. However, it is essential that we preserve an environment that fosters innovation and research. What's more, phenomenal treatment advances are of little use if the Americans who need them cannot access them."

The poll found that virtually all (95%) Americans think that research institutions from the public and the private sectors should work collaboratively. Nearly half (45%) of Americans believe that tax dollars pay for most medical research in the U.S., 14% say pharmaceutical companies, and 9% say consumers pay for most medical research. Yet a recent Research!America report noted that pharmaceutical and biotech industry R&D spending has for several years exceeded federal spending. In 2006, the largest federal agency that funds health-related research, the NIH, saw its budget remain flat for the third consecutive year, at $28.5 billion. Research!America's Woolley urged Congress to show greater commitment to federally funded medical research.

Charlton Research conducted the telephone survey among 800 adults nationwide using random digit dial methodology. The sample was proportionate to the country's demographics, including geography, gender and ethnicity. The survey has a theoretical sampling error of ±3.5%. More findings from the poll are available at and

About Research!America
Research!America is the nation's largest not-for-profit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by more than 500 member organizations that represent the voices of more than 125 million Americans.

About PhRMA
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country's leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $43 billion in 2006 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $55.2 billion in 2006.

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco