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BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c275 (Published 20 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c275

Industry continues to dominate research funding

In 2007, the US spent $101.1bn (£62.5bn; €69.6bn) on biomedical research—4.5% of the total expenditure on health. Drug and medical device companies contributed 58% of this, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) contributed 27%, and the rest came from state and local governments (5%), federal sources other than the NIH (4%), and private organisations such as charities and foundations (4%).

Overall spending went up between 2003 and 2007, but the rate of increase slowed to less than half the rate seen in the decade before 2003 (compound annual growth 3.4% v 7.8%, P<0.001). NIH spending contracted the most, and academic institutions that rely heavily on federal funding will be feeling the pinch, says an editorial (p 170). Industry contributions failed to make up the shortfall in NIH funding between 2007 and 2008, and contributions from the two sources combined fell.

Researchers computed these trends from publicly available data including national health expenditure accounts and financial reports from companies and trade organisations. They are focused on the US but have implications well beyond, because nearly four fifths of global biomedical research is sponsored by public and private sources within the US. Health services research is a different story. According to this analysis, the US invested just $2.2bn on health services research in 2008.

A setback for adults with Achilles tendinopathy

A new treatment for Achilles tendinopathy has failed to work in one of the first randomised trials. Injecting the affected tendon with a small amount of plasma rich in platelets made no difference to recovery for 27 adults with chronic pain and thickening in the Achilles tendon. The same number of controls had a saline injection. The trial was double blind.

Both groups improved over six months, by around 20 points on a symptom score that ran from 0 to 100. The difference in …

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