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EU puts antibiotics, CNS at heart of health R&D budget

Total European tender funding for investment in research comes to €8.1bn

The European Commission (EC) has announced €8.1bn tender funding for investment in research for 2013, including almost €300m for health-related projects.

A total of €147m is being made available to support research in the area of antibiotics, with the EC noting that more than 25,000 patients in Europe die each year from infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria.

Only four pharma companies are investing in antibiotics R&D, however, down from 19 in 1990, while just two new antibiotic classes have reached the market in the last 30 years, it notes.

Meanwhile, another €144m has been earmarked for projects aimed at reducing the burden of central nervous system disorders on society, with diseases such as Alzheimer's, depression and schizophrenia affecting millions of Europeans and coming at a cost to society of around €800bn in 2010.

The call for proposals under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) also includes a number of other sector-agnostic measures designed to support R&D in Europe, such as a €1.2bn package for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and €220m for promoting the use of promising research that has already been carried out.

Last year, the EC introduced a series of reforms to its funding process for research with the aim of making it more accessible to SMEs and trying to help smaller organisations avoid the "valley of death", where they run out of money before being able to get their good ideas to market.

At a press conference to announce the funding, Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "We have seen that those EU member states that have invested in research have largely weathered the current crisis better."

"Our research-intensive companies tend to be our most resilient and retain their staff," she added, noting that "the high level of competition for EU funding makes sure that taxpayers' money goes to the best projects that tackle issues that concern all of us."

11th July 2012

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