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Mental illness research hit by funding crisis

Scientists are warning that research into mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia is facing a ‘funding crisis. Pharmaceutical compa...

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|Jun 14|magazine6 min read

Scientists are warning that research into mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia is facing a ‘funding crisis’.

Pharmaceutical companies including GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca recently announced that there were no longer any plans for them to participate in research for new anti-depressant drugs.

 A report by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology is warning that as a result there will be a delay in the development of new treatments for mental illnesses as well a lack in available training for the next generation of neuroscience researchers.

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In Europe, approximately 80 percent of funding for brain research into mental illnesses had come from the private sector.

However, pharmaceutical companies were increasingly withdrawing their support as a result of the huge cost that is involved in introducing new drugs and treatments to the consumer.

On average it takes about 13 years for drug treatments for mental illness to be developed and agomelatine is the only anti-depressant that has been approved in Europe in the last 10 years.

Professor Guy Goodwin from the University of Oxford is calling for more money to be invested in brain research: “The cost and burden are really quite high, yet research attracts disproportionately low investment,” he said in an interview.

“Public investment in research should be somehow related to the burden of the disease.”

He also believes that this funding crisis will have a negative impact on the neuroscience research and training and will result in a “generational crisis.”

Meanwhile, Professor David Nutt from Imperial College London said: “With Europe's extraordinary tradition in neuroscience innovation relying so heavily on private-sector investment, the consequences for the region's research base and public-health agenda are of major concern.”