Return on investment for clinical trials


A paper in ??The Lancet?? (and reported here) noted that the ROI (return on investment) for 28 clinical trials done by the NINDS(National Institutes of Neurological Disease and Stroke) resulted in a calculated societal benefit of $15 billion. That’s billion with a B. And if you don’t like that measure of societal benefit, try an estimated 470,000 years of life. Compare this to a $335 million (with an M) budget.

Now, this is a news report on an medical article. The issues of selection bias (perhaps NINDS(National Institutes of Neurological Disease and Stroke) have the highest ROI(return on investment) on the planet), methods of calculating estimated years of life saved, and so forth have not really been covered in any detail. I’ll also admit the possibility, as well, that ROI(return on investment) is a lot higher in NINDS(National Institutes of Neurological Disease and Stroke) research than in private research, where I work.

However, with the pharmaceutical (rightly, wrongly, or different) taking a beating in recent years, it’s very important to remember why we do what we do. Yes, we do need more transparency in how we conduct private medical research. Yes, we need to keep ethics at the forefront. Yes, we need to market and prescribe drugs appropriately after they come to market. There have been several high-profile instances in the recent past where these have come into serious question. But the thousands or perhaps millions of people involved in clinical research are still here, working hard to save lives.

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