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European cancer research catching up with US

A comprehensive survey of how cancer research is funded shows that, contrary to public perception, Europe is a major contributor to the global cancer research effort. The survey, the second of its kind from the European Cancer Research Manager's Forum (ECRM), looked at the overall €3.2 billion spent on cancer research in 2004.

The report found that whilst global levels of expenditure on cancer research continued to show differences between the USA and Europe, the gap had substantially narrowed since the last survey which used data from 2003. Though direct cancer research investment by funding organisations (as a percentage of GDP and per capita) remained higher in the USA compared to Europe, when the funding through national healthcare and university systems was taken into account, the gap narrowed considerably (0.03% GDP Europe compared to 0.06% USA).

While this ability to estimate the cancer research funding flowing through Europe's national healthcare and universities formed a major part of the survey, it was also found that there had been an increase in some EU Member State funding whilst the USA shrunk in real terms.

The survey also highlighted differences in the levels of funding depending on the organisation. In Europe 47% of the cancer research spend was from charity, 53% from government, whereas the US had 96% of its cancer research funded by government. Furthermore, in Europe, the vast majority of charity money (80%) was concentrated in just 14 top organisations and nearly all raised and spent within 15 EU Member States.

Announcing the report Professor Sullivan, chair of the ECRM, added: "Since the first survey published two years ago, nearly 60% of Member States have increased their funding of cancer research in real terms, yet 30% have not. Indeed the major policy issue is the real differences in cancer research investment between the Member States themselves, rather than the prevailing gaps in cancer research funding between Europe and the USA, which have been a driving force for EU policy-making to date." He continued by making a special plea to those EU countries lagging behind the 15 Member States which carry out the majority of the research: "It is clear that some governments are still failing to appropriately support cancer research. For these countries the need for specific policy actions to ensure a limited core of high quality research within their institutions - relative to their R&D budgets - is crucial if these Member States have aspirations to become major locations for cancer research in the future." He also called for a cut in bureaucracy and over management stating that their influence was a "constant danger to progress". He suggested that funding organisations and governments should "guard against these dangers and, where necessary, simplify and harmonise". The UK had the maximum spend of any country with €783 million, and the largest growth in spend, up 202% from 2003.

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Founding partners

European Cancer Organisation European Institute of Oncology

Founding Charities

Foundazione Umberto Veronesi Fondazione IEO Swiss Bridge

Published by

ecancer Global Foundation