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Jawad Arshad

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China: The Future of Science?

Posted by Jawad Arshad

            In his recent State of the Union, President Barack Obama stated, "the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow." The nation that is battling the United States for this title may very well be in China. As China continues to soar economically, its focus on science has become increasingly obvious. In fact, it is predicted that China will overtake the United States with regards to scientific prowess in only 30 to 40 years, which is an exceedingly fast timescale [1]. In fact, China is making aggressive strides in R & D spending. China went from creating 8% of the world’s high-end technology in 2003 to over 24 % in 2012 [2]. This puts the United States' 27% stake at risk given that China is increasing its overall R & D spending by 18% every year. Furthermore, the United States share of total global R & D spending fell from 37 percent to 30 percent. Meanwhile, China's share jumped from 2.2 percent in 2000 to 14.5 percent in 2011 [2].  
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The Future of Clinical Trials: Rising Costs

Posted by Jawad Arshad

           The costs of clinical research are increasing due to multiple troubling trends. One of the most prevalent is the expanding cost of research and development for new drugs before they even hit the market. For example, a 2012 article in Nature reported that for every billion dollars spent, the number of new drugs brought to market has decreased by half every nine years for the past fifty years [1]. A major component of this rising cost is the fact that 95% of the experimental medicines are either ineffective or unsafe for general usage. Despite the high failure rate, there is no good way to rule out drugs expect through expensive studies involving animal and human subjects. Even if a drug passes this rigorous testing, its use may not provide greater economic benefits to the companies that produce them or even to the patients themselves. “Most new drugs are only incremental advances,” says Dr. Joel Lexchin, a professor at York University's School of Health Policy and Management, in Toronto, Ontario [2].


            A second factor that contributes to the rising costs is the increasing need to collect more clinical data. Newer well-meaning regulations stipulate more through and more prolonged saftey testing during clinical trials. As a result, the clinical trials--especially for drugs attempting to alleviate chronic diseases--tend to be  complex and sometimes prohibitively expensive. There are also increased costs from a greater emphasis on data and site monitoring and the use of expensive technologies such as MRI [3]. It is simply more expensive to meet the necessary data demand. 

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