Biomedicine's star is rising as a significant growth sector in the U.S. economy, providing evidence that advocates are using to encourage government investment.
A report published today by the science advocacy group United for Medical Research revised upward its calculations on how much payback research provides the U.S. economy and found that the industry is now a trillion dollar business.
A private analyst group called Battelle Technology Partnership Practice prepared the report on behalf of United for Medical Research (UMR). UMR is a coalition of universities, as well as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease foundations. It encourages government investment into the study of genomics, and suggests that continued funding of National Institutes of Health will revolutionize medicine.
The biomedical industry has contributed US$965 billion to the U.S. economy since 1988, the study says. Over the past year, genomics added $31 billion to the U.S. gross national product and supported 152,000 jobs. U.S. taxpayers received a 65:1 payback on research dollars invested over the past several decades, the study says.
That figure now exceeds the return of $141 for every dollar invested which was touted by President Obama during his last State of the Union speech in February. UMR says that the 24-year U.S. federal investment in genomics research amounts to $2 per year for each U.S. resident. Congress has provided the NIH multiple rounds of funding, in the billions of dollars and President Obama is calling for an increase in his FY2014 budget.
But austerity may be slowing the pace of discovery and treatment innovation. Major breakthroughs have been made in the understanding of Alzheimer's and diabetes just within the past few years. The sequester has reduced funding. Some scientists fear that young people may not be attracted to the industry if those cuts continue, conceding innovation to competing nations and actually harming the long term budget outlook.
The Alzheimer's Association says that the direct costs of caring for those with the disease cost the U.S. an estimated $203 billion in 2013 alone. That already exceeds what has been spent on NIH research. Financing a cure for Alzheimer's would have a significant positive impact on reducing future federal spending, support a thriving sector of the economy, and encouraging careers in biomedicine within the United States.
Just imagine what the entire industry could do.
(image credit: MSU.edu)