On November 20, Research!America released its report on U.S. Investments in Medical and Health Research and Development, 2013-2017. Generally, the report shows that the U.S. has seen strong growth across sectors. However, U.S. investment continues to be dwarfed by the costs of disease.
U.S. investments in medical and health research and development grew by 27% from 2013 to 2017. Among those sectors funding R&D, industry and the federal government represent the lion’s share of that investment. In 2017, industry accounted for 67% of total R&D investment and the federal government accounted for 22%. Biopharmaceutical companies and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) represent the highest contributors to medical and health R&D in the industry and federal government sectors respectively.
Though the federal government saw more than 18% growth in R&D investment from 2013 to 2017, these investments were uneven across health agencies. NIH, for instance, received $2 billion increases in 2016 and 2017, while agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) experienced stagnant or reduced budgets over the same time period. In the industry sector, ups and downs in medical technology investment coincide with the establishment and subsequent suspension of the medical device excise tax, with investment slowing when the tax was fully in place and picking up the pace when the tax was suspended.
Even with consistent five-year growth across all sectors, the U.S. continues to spend just 5 cents of every health care dollar on research into treatments, cures, and preventative measures for disease. With the impending threat of austerity-level “sequestration” budget cuts in FY2020 and the return of the medical device excise tax in January 2020, our nation is at a critical juncture in determining whether we are doing enough to confront deadly and debilitating diseases.