Fattening Up NIH

How much is enough?

The drive to double NIH's 1999 budget was not based on an overall review of the U.S. research portfolio, research opportunities or an analysis of how to achieve the most health care benefit for the buck. Rather, the target was selected because a group of talented people realized that the combination of medical needs, the glamour of scientific research, and enthusiasm for new economy industries like biotech combined to make it attainable.

Because NIH is so popular, Congress rarely scrutinizes its activities closely or asks difficult questions. Free-market advocates who tout the benefits of competition and privatization don't ask if NIH would benefit from some competition, if NIH could become more efficient, or if higher-risk valuable research would be financed if an alternative biomedical funding entity was created.