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Support for science and research call

4 March 2008

Support for science and research call

“The anguish and alarm expressed by top scientists this morning at the paucity of funding and investment for basic research in this country is strongly endorsed by the Researched Medicines Industry Association (RMI),” its CEO Ken Shirley said

“While the public spend on scientific research may have been reduced by 17% over the past 10 years there is also a disturbing, and much larger, decrease in private company investment.

“Nowhere is this more evident than in the pharmaceutical industry where only 15 years ago over $100m was being invested, now the sum is less than $20m annually because of the hostile commercial environment and lack of appreciation by successive governments,” Mr Shirley said.

“Worldwide the pharmaceutical industry invests some $NZ 80 billion annually[1] in research and the bio-pharmaceutical industry is reliant totally on research.

“If New Zealand could attract 0.25% of this international pool, which with local management and a robust local industry should be obtainable, it would equate to around $200m, or nearly ten times what is spent now by pharmaceutical companies and nearly triple what the government spends on biomedical research,” he noted.

In the United States the pharmaceutical industry invests in research and development twice as much in absolute terms as any other industry. A large proportion of this is basic research. In Canada basic research spending by pharmaceutical companies comprises almost 20% of total research.

Other smarter economies such as Singapore have seized the opportunity attracting massive private investment by fostering constructive agreements between government and industry.

If government fosters a more favourable commercial environment then private investment will surely follow – if not then we will continue to suffer a net loss of scientists and clinicians to overseas jurisdictions,”, concluded Mr Shirley.

[1] “Pharmaceutical Research and development in New Zealand – On the Brink of the Abyss” by Dr Edward Watson. Nazadel Ltd, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical consultants, May 2006.


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