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March 22, 2017

US pending budget cuts will curb medical innovation

By GlobalData Healthcare

As the rest of the world is increasing its investment in biomedical research, the US has been cutting research funding rather steadily over the past ten years.

As well, according to analysis by GlobalData, the decline of grant funding in the country also reinforces this trend.

The decline in medical research funding in the US has largely hurt early-stage research, especially proof-of-concept studies, which demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of a treatment after its discovery. This means that some treatments never advance through the clinic, as investors choose to provide funds for late-stage trials where commercial expectations are more promising.

As a result, the US is at risk of losing its global scientific leadership and competitiveness to countries in Southeast Asia such as China, Singapore, and India.

What is more troubling now is that there seems to be not only a lack of investment in biomedical research but a concerted effort against such research. The current Trump administration’s budget proposal would cut nearly $50B from non-defense discretionary spending, and the administration is also expected to slash as much as one-quarter of the budget from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In addition to reducing the EPA’s staff by 20 percent, these cuts would eliminate or freeze funding for some of the EPA’s best-known initiatives aimed at improving water and air quality, including the Clean Power Plan, which is meant to reduce carbon emissions; the Global Change Research program, which studies climate change; Energy Star grants; and graduate fellowships under the Science to Achieve Results program.

While cutting staff and eliminating redundancies are political norms for every incoming administration, it is an unprecedented move to instill freezes on grants and subcontracts from government agencies.