WASHINGTON - A new report released this morning shows the United States' leadership in the global life sciences industry is under threat due to a constant dollar decline in NIH biomedical research funding and intensifying global competition from countries such as China, Germany, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In recent years, these countries 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 & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and United for Medical Research.
According to the report, many countries are choosing to secure their future well-being by increasing investments in biomedical research - in stark contrast to the United States. China, for example, has identified biotechnology as one of seven key strategic and emerging industries and has pledged to invest $308.5 billion in biotechnology over the next five years. 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). Other countries are also investing more in biomedical research relative to the sizes of their economies. When it comes to government funding for pharmaceutical industry-performed research, Korea's government provides seven times more funding as a share of GDP than does the United States, while Singapore and Taiwan provide five and three times as much, respectively.
The report examines a number of key indicators in the life sciences industry, finding that:
- Growth in high-wage, high-skill jobs in the life sciences sector are flat-lining in the U.S., while employment in other countries, like Germany and France, shows consistent growth;
- The U.S. 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 U.S. and about one-third of total global capacity.
The report showcases the need for Congress to prevent fluctuations in NIH funding that disrupt research progress and lead to uncertainty in capital markets. It also recommends that NIH receive annual baseline funding of no less than 0.25 percent of national GDP to maintain American leadership in this crucial sector of the global economy.
If the United States were to continue down its current path, the country would face diminished employment, lost economic growth and patients would risk missing out on the benefits of innovative new drugs and therapies, according to the report. In the immediate future, the looming 2013 budget sequestration would sla