Economic benefit of NINDS-supported clinical trials estimated at more than $15 billion

linical trials supported by the NINDS between 1977 and 2000. The total cost of funding these trials was $335 million. The investigators reviewed publications on treatment utilization, societal cost, and health impact. When necessary, they supplemented the published data with other publicly available information from organizations that pool sales data, the companies that manufacture the drugs and devices tested, and disease-based non-profit organizations. Information on the utilization of the tested therapies and their impact on societal costs and savings or quality of life was available for just eight of these trials. The costs of the other 20 trials were included in the analysis, but their potential benefits were not. The study appears in the April 22, 2006, issue of The Lancet.*

"We tried as best we could to be very systematic and to estimate conservatively whenever an estimation was required. In spite of all that, we found that there was a tremendous positive impact from the program of clinical trials at NINDS," says Dr. Johnston.

All cost and economic impact data were converted to 2004 U.S. dollars in order to generate 10-year projections of the impact of the trials, starting from the point at which the funding for each trial ended. The investigators used a statistical measure called "quality-adjusted life years" (QALY) to measure the impact of improvements in health and survival from changes in medical practice associated with the trials. Using this measure, a year of life in perfect health is considered equal to 1 QALY, and years of sub-optimal health are assigned numerical values between 0 and 1 based on the severity of impairment. The value of a single QALY was estimated at $40,310, which was the average economic productivity of a U.S. resident in 2004, regardless of employment or age, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total societal economic impact for the trials was calculated as the total net health benefit

Contact: Natalie Frazin or Margo Warren
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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