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NIH SPENDING ON BASIC HEALTH RESEARCH STILL EXCEEDS DRUG INDUSTRY

Executive Summary

NIH SPENDING ON BASIC HEALTH RESEARCH STILL EXCEEDS DRUG INDUSTRY expenditures, outgoing National Institutes of Health Director James Wyngaarden told reporters at a Health Communicator's Breakfast in Washington Aug. 1. Wyngaarden alluded to PMA's promotion of the fact that the pharmaceutical industry expenditures on R&D are higher than the total NIH budget, and pointed out that NIH still spends a good deal more on basic research. "Industry spends around $ 8 bil., $ 8.5 bil., in health-related R&D," Wyngaarden said. "Of that, only $ 400 mil. is spent outside of industry. So although their total is larger than the NIH [total], the amount that goes to universities from industry is about 10% of what we spend in universities." The former director noted that "of our $ 7.5 bil. [in research spending], probably 88% is spent outside of NIH, somewhere on the order of $ 6 bil." Of the amount industry spends "outside their laboratories," Wyngaarden continued, "$ 400 mil., maybe a third of that, is in support of free inquiry, the rest are really industry-sponsored drug trials being done at the university level." He concluded: "While I can't really comment about the quality of research that they're doing, I think those figures indicate that the vast majority of what they are spending is for product development." Wyngaarden is considering a White House post as his next assignment. He said he "blows hot and cold" on the offer to become deputy director for life sciences within the White House Science Office, and will make a decision within a week or two. His last day as NIH director was July 31. William Raub, who had been deputy director since 1986, is now acting director of NIH. "I've wondered whether some of my pro-choice statements of seven years ago and my involvement [in support of] fetal tissue [research] would be a problem," Wyngaarden commented. However, he said White House Science Advisor Allen Bromley, who asked Wyngaarden to take the position, has cleared his appointment through White House Chief of Staff John Sununu. Wyngaarden noted that he is considering several other options, some of which would permit him to work part-time at Duke University and "do a number of other things in Washington or internationally." Wyngaarden had been a professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Duke from 1967 until his appointment as director of NIH in 1982. He noted he has had a couple of offers from industry but has not "really looked into" them. On the topic of scientific misconduct, Wyngaarden said NIH receives about 20-25 cases of misconduct per year, half of which are "misunderstandings or technical violations of a rather trivial nature" and two to four of which are "egregious events." He said that only in rare instances is misconduct motivated by profit. However, he added that the "new relations between science and industry, which have been developing in universities now for about 15 years -- with university scientists increasingly consulting or being advisors to industry, or on boards, or in a number of cases even having equity positions -- they clearly are creating some new conflict-of-interest possibilities." Wyngaarden also pointed out that the 1986 Technology Transfer Act "opened up the national laboratories to the same kind of relationship." He noted that last year about 100 NIH intramural scientists, from a total of about 4,500 doctoral level scientists, consulted with industry for fees. NIH regulations prohibit intramural scientists to consult exclusively for a company or to share their research results unilaterally with one company unless under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, Wyngaarden said. Scientists cannot operate under such agreements and consult with the same company, receive stock or stock options, or serve on company boards, except in an advisory capacity. * Commenting on the NIH budget, Wyngaarden said the FY 1990 budget of $ 7.7 bil. is "roughly $ 1 bil. short" of what is needed. He stated the additional appropriations are necessary to fund about 45% of research grant applications that are approved by NIH study sections, which he said is the historic average for NIH. He noted that in 1989, 29% of approved grant applications were funded and it is projected that 23% will be funded in 1990.
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