The King's Fund today welcomed the government's decision to pump an extra £100 million per year by 2008 to fund research into the treatment and cure of alzheimer's, stroke, diabetes and mental health.
The King's Fund mental health adviser Simon Lawton-Smith said:
'It is crucial that we develop new and better medicines and treatments for these health problems. But the new funding should not be confined to medical interventions as non-medical interventions have been shown to be extremely effective in tackling a range of physical and mental health problems. Too often the focus on prescribing pills can mean that the benefits of other interventions are overlooked.'
The King's Fund senior fellow Anthony Harrison said:
'The majority of the money spent on research, particularly that financed by the private sector, focuses almost entirely on the search for new drugs rather than other forms of therapy. It also fails to take account of the support patients need when recovering from a stroke or other illness. This imbalance needs to be corrected.
'We also know that only a tiny proportion of the money spent on research goes towards preventing illness, rather than treatment and cures. The government has just launched a national consultation on improving the nation's physical and mental health. It needs to ensure that research looking at how to prevent illness gets a much higher profile and increased levels of funding than at present.'
Notes to editors:
1. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through grants. We are a major resource to people working in health, offering leadership and education courses; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; a specialist bookshop; and conference and meeting facilities.
2. The King's Fund published Getting the Right Medicines? Putting public interests at the heart of health-related research, by Anthony Harrison, on Monday, 15 December 2003. The report says the UK pharmaceutical industry has neglected major groups, such as children, women and older people, whose specific health needs are not taken fully into account. These factors have led to a situation where research to protect and promote health attracts far fewer resources than research to find new and profitable drugs, it says.
3. For further information and interviews, please contact Daniel Reynolds in the King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2581 or 07831 554927, or Michael Moruzzi on 020 7307 2585.