Moos, W. H., Rurka, J. E. and Miller, S. M. (2009), Bright lights, clearly visible in the healthcare R&D tunnel, could burn out for lack of funds. Drug Dev. Res., 70: 457–460. doi: 10.1002/ddr.20354
Bright lights have never been more visible in healthcare R&D, each heralding innovative approaches to disease diagnosis, treatment, or prevention. Unfortunately, this promise of continued healthcare innovation is increasingly threatened by inadequate funding of R&D at many levels: in academic and nonprofit organizations, in small business ventures, and even in large pharmaceutical companies. If we are to continue transforming the practice of medicine, we must ensure that R&D funding levels are made sufficient to leverage recent scientific advances into important new medicines. Thanks to legions of dedicated researchers over the last century, we are making significant progress against major killers. The next generation of drugs and biologics could delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s for long enough to be considered a “cure.” Current experience with pandemic swine flu has acquainted the population-at-large with an idea of the magnitude of potential risks created by a “bad bugs, no drugs” scenario. Innovative biomedical R&D has been so successful for so long that many of us who live in the developed world now consider good health to be an entitlement. We simply cannot afford to miss the enormous opportunities now coming into focus, which promise to relieve suffering, reduce morbidity, and eliminate so many needless deaths. Several focal points are recommended as the basis around which we might begin to address these needs at the NIH and FDA, along with small businesses and big pharma.