New NIH head says government has fallen behind pharma on clinical trials

WASHINGTON — The new National Institutes of Health director, Monica Bertagnolli, said it’s a “failure” that enrollment in government-funded clinical trials has lagged behind those funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

“If you just look at the number of patients who go on government-funded trials, it’s been completely flat over the last decade,” she said at a meeting of the advocacy group Friends of Cancer Research. “If you go and look at the number of people who go on pharma-sponsored trials, it’s just this commitment and this increase.”


A Johns Hopkins University study published in 2015 showed that the pharmaceutical industry funds six times more clinical trials than the government. Industry-sponsored trials increased 43% from 2006 to 2014, while newly registered NIH-funded trials decreased 24% over the same period.

Get unlimited access to award-winning journalism and exclusive events.