A study released in the Canadian Medical Association Journal(CMAJ) is calling for the Canadian government to boost funding for clinical trials, saying it provides "scant support" for randomized controlled trials relative to other countries.
In the study, researchers Drs. Salim Yusef and John Cairns looked at how Canada funds and supports clinical research through its federal research institutions.
Yusef and Cairns found the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the primary federal funding organization for clinical trials in Canada, to be lagging far behind its UK- and UK-based rivals.
CIHR was provided with Can$1 billion in funding during the 2010/11 cycle, equivalent to 0.07% of GDP and Can$29 per Canadian citizen. The US and UK meanwhile spent Can$31 billion and Can$3.2 billion respectively on their main funding agencies. For the US, this funding level is equivalent to 0.2% of GDP and Can$100 per citizen, while for the UK the funding is equivalent to 0.12% of GDP and Can$45 per citizen.
"The disparity between countries widens when one looks at specific funding for clinical trials," said the researchers in a statement. Of the Can$1 billion given to CIHR, it only spent Can$33 million on clinical trials (3.3%), while the US spent 11% of its Can$31 billion budget on clinical trials (Can$341 million).
According to the researchers, the lag is hurting the opportunity for Canada to contribute to the world bioeconomy, and funding needs to be brought into line with US and UK levels of investment.
"The CIHR should sharply increase funding for peer review for clinical trials to more than 10% of its overall budget," write the authors. "This shift could happen within the next four to five years and grow to 15% of the total CIHR budget to ensure that the clinical relevance of discoveries from other forms of research can be rapidly assessed."
"Developing, enhancing and sustaining Canada's capacity to conduct world-class clinical studies will enable Canada to make important contributions that will improve health," the authors conclude.
EurekAlert - Canada should significantly increase its funding of randomized clinical trials