Congressional Support Accelerates Discovery
In the late 1990s, Congress made a commitment to double the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over the course of five years. The primary goal for the added funds was to discover better treatments and cures for human disease. Congress delivered on its promise, and scientists have amassed a wealth of medical knowledge. Today, researchers have a greater understanding of how the brain and nervous system function due to NIH-funded research.
Many recent scientific discoveries, including those in neurology, psychiatry, and behavioral research have begun to show their potential. Insights into the biology of schizophrenia, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and other disorders have led to the development of enhanced diagnostic techniques, better prevention methods, and more effective treatments. Simply put the result of Congressional support for life sciences research leads to improved patient care.
Today’s Research: Hope for the Future
Today’s research is the foundation for future medical breakthroughs. The federal government’s investment in research must be sustained in order to translate today’s scientific findings into further bedside treatments, and the ABC strongly supports funding for NIH in its entirety. Recent discoveries, such as those listed below, are a direct result of robust funding for the NIH.
- The development of drugs that reduce the severity of symptoms for those suffering with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
- The identification of stroke treatment and prevention methods
- The discovery of a new class of anti-depressants that produce fewer side effects than their predecessors
- The creation of new drugs to help prevent epileptic seizures
The expansion of treatments for the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia
Research Improves Health and Fuels the Economy
Diseases of the nervous system pose a significant public health and economic challenge, affecting nearly one in three Americans at some point in life. Improved health outcomes and positive economic data support the assertion that biomedical research is needed today to improve public health and save money tomorrow.
Not only does research save lives and fuel today’s economy, it is also a wise investment in the future. For example, 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease today, and the cost of caring for these people is staggering. Medicare expenditures alone are $91 billion each year, and the cost to American businesses exceeds $60 billion annually, including lost productivity of employees who are caregivers. As the baby boom generation ages and the cost of medical services increases, these figures will only grow. Treatments that could delay the onset and progression of the disease by even five years could save $50 billion in healthcare costs each year. Research funded by the NIH is critical for the development of such treatments. The cost of investing in NIH today is minor compared to both current and future healthcare costs.
Additionally, the direct economic benefit of investing in research is significant. It is estimated that each $1.0 billion of NIH funding generates up to 20,000 jobs. Science funding also generates more than twice as much in state and local economic output. A strong federal investment in research can assist your state in maintaining a biomedical research foundation that attracts companies and investors. For instance, in FY2007, NIH dollars generated more than $50 billion in new state business.
Strong science funding can bolster the economy today and improve our nation’s long term health and competitiveness tomorrow. Robust research and development investment remains the key to America’s long-term global competitiveness. NIH funding serves as the basis for future innovation and industries such as pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology.
NIH funding must be set at a sustainable level of at least three percent above the rate of increase in the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI).
There is still much work to be done to uncover the mysteries of the brain. Each year provides Congress with the opportunity to renew its previous commitment to health funding as a national priority.