Medical Research Stats

Medical Research Statistics:

  • Australia spent $1.7bn on health Research & Development (R&D) in 2000-01.
  • Cancer was the leading area of research $160m (or 9% of the total).
  • Public sector investment in R&D is declining while the private sector investment grew rapidly.
  • Capital expenditure is 16% of total health R&D, mainly land and buildings (10%) while current expenditure (mainly labour) is 8%.
  • Australia ranks at the lower end of the OECD spectrum for health R&D spending related to GDP and trending in the wrong direction over the late 1990s (i.e. declining from a low base).
  • Australia, however, benefits substantially from global investments in health R&D with the fourth highest lifespan in the world. The gains are derived from reduced death rates in cardio and infections diseases, and reductions in morbidity and mortality from cancer.
  • Australia has contributed significantly to these global advances including development of vaccines against cervical cancer (an ACRF Initiative – see Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research, University of Queensland, Brisbane, which was built with $1 million funding from the ACRF in 2001).
  • Living standards improve as much due to health gains as to consumption gains.
  • In Australia, improved healthspan over 1960-1999 is valued at $5.4 trillion – 46% of Australian consumption ($2.9 trillion from longer life and $2.5 trillion from greater wellness).
  • Future R&D gains have potentially stunning impacts – reduced deaths from cancer by one-fifth as a result of R&D would be worth $184bn. To Australians, more than total forecast Commonwealth spending in the 2003-4 fiscal year.


Moira A Clay, PhD: independent analysis by Access Economics commissioned by the Australian Society for Medical Research, 2003