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UMR Report: Declining NIH Investment Threatens U.S. Global Competitiveness

Legislative Update
May 17, 2012

On May 17, United for Medical Research (UMR) released a report showing that the United States’ leadership in global life sciences industry is under threat due to a constant dollar decline in National Institutes of Health (NIH) biomedical research funding and intensifying global competition from countries that have expanded their financial support for biomedical research and enacted policies to enhance their biomedical innovation ecosystems.

Leadership in Decline: Assessing U.S. International Competitiveness in Biomedical Research was published jointly by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and UMR, which is a coalition of the nation’s leading scientific research institutions and industries and health and patient advocates. The report finds that:

  • If present trends continue, China’s financial commitment to biomedical research will be twice that of the United States in the next five years (and four times greater as a share of GDP);
  • Growth in high-wage, high-skill jobs in the life sciences sector is flat-lining in the United States while employment in other countries, like Germany and France, shows consistent growth;
  • The United States accumulated a $136.7 billion trade deficit in pharmaceutical products over the last decade, a period when many competitors realized increasing trade surpluses;
  • The United States’ share of global biopharmaceutical patents and overall industry output is shrinking, while China’s continues to expand in these areas; and
  • China already has more gene sequencing capacity than the entire United States and about one-third of total global capacity.
At March 20 and March 28 hearings of the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittees, respectively, NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D. testified about the impact of flat NIH funding and potential cuts from sequestration on the United States’ ability to maintain its global competitiveness in the life sciences sector.

On March 19, UMR released a report that found that NIH funding supported more than 432,000 jobs in 2011, directly or indirectly, and generated more than $62.1 billion in new economic activity.