How bad is the funding for medical research?
The second problem addressed by Crowdacure is the funding hardship for medical research. It covers two types of issues.
The first is the long-lasting poverty of research funding in particular diseases. This is the case of course of rare diseases and tropical infections It appears to be relatively stable in time unless the government "realise" the severity of the consequences (such as in the case of dementia and antibiotic resistance), and seems to be consistent when comparing the UK and the US.
The second issue is a consequence of the overall lack of funding but here again, effects across the spectrum all research projects. Typically drug development of generic drugs repurposing projects that are in "the valley of death", early-stage research, alternative directions of research and others.
More on underfunding in medical research
One would assume that research necessary to its population would be funded by the government. To explore whether this is the case, we propose to follow what other experts are doing, assess if there is an association between the funding of medical research in a disease and the burden of this disease.
The burden of a disease may be due to the deaths it can cause and the disability. Let's see in the table below the leading causes of death in the UK:
Now if we look into the monies spent on research for each disease, we would probably want to see more attention for those conditions associated with the biggest number of death, unless there is a particular reason such as in rare diseases.
According to the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) in the UK, government and charities who are NCRI partners spent most of their research money in 2015/16 in breast cancer (£40M), leukaemia (£35M) and prostate cancer (£26M).
In 2014, these diseases caused just in the UK respectively the death of 11,433, 4,584 and 11,287 individuals (Cancer Research UK).
Government and charities in the UK spendings on research in 2014 were £90M on dementia and Alzheimer £138M for ischaemic heart disease, £29M for cerebrovascular disease, £31M for all respiratory disease, and £25M for lung cancer.
This means that spendings were £3500 per person who died of breast cancer, £7635 per person who died of leukaemia and £2300 per person who died of prostate cancer.
Luengo-Fernandez R, et al. BMJ Open 2015;5:1