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Farooq F, Mogayzel PJ, Lanzkron S, Haywood C, Strouse JJ. Comparison of US Federal and Foundation Funding of Research for Sickle Cell Disease and Cystic Fibrosis and Factors Associated With Research Productivity. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(3):e201737. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.1737
Are differences in disease-specific funding between sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis associated with variations in drug development and research publications?
This cross-sectional study of research funding and outputs for cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease found that both federal funding and foundation expenditures were greater for cystic fibrosis compared with sickle cell disease. Significantly more research articles and drug approvals were found for cystic fibrosis compared with sickle cell disease, but the total numbers of clinical trials were similar.
The findings show that disparities in funding exist between sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis and that these disparities may be associated with decreased research productivity and novel drug development for sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) and cystic fibrosis (CF) are severe autosomal recessive disorders associated with intermittent disease exacerbations that require hospitalizations, progressive chronic organ injury, and substantial premature mortality. Research funding is a limited resource and may contribute to health care disparities, especially for rare diseases that disproportionally affect economically disadvantaged groups.
To compare disease-specific funding between SCD and CF and the association between funding and research productivity.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This cross-sectional study examined federal and foundation funding, publications indexed in PubMed, clinical trials registered in ClinicalTrials.gov, and new drug approvals from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2018, in an estimated US population of approximately 90 000 individuals with SCD and approximately 30 000 individuals with CF.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Federal and foundation funding, publications indexed in PubMed, clinical trial registrations, and new drug approvals.
From 2008 through 2018, federal funding was greater per person with CF compared with SCD (mean [SD], $2807 [$175] vs $812 [$147]; P < .001). Foundation expenditures were greater for CF than for SCD (mean [SD], $7690 [$3974] vs $102 [$13.7]; P < .001). Significantly more research articles (mean [SD], 1594  vs 926 ; P < .001) and US Food and Drug Administration drug approvals (4 vs 1) were found for CF compared with SCD, but the total number of clinical trials was similar (mean [SD], 27.3 [6.9] vs 23.8 [6.3]; P = .22).
Conclusions and Relevance
The findings show that disparities in funding between SCD and CF may be associated with decreased research productivity and novel drug development for SCD. Increased federal and foundation funding is needed for SCD and other diseases that disproportionately affect economically disadvantaged groups to address health care disparities.
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