Letter: Effective funding of medical research

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Sir: The chairman of the Association of Medical Research Charities rightly draws attention to the lack of money to fund medical research in unfashionable areas such as back pain (16 September).

Back pain research has always been underfunded in the UK. It has not got the priority of research into life-threatening diseases. Nor should it. But given the major contribution that back pain research could make to the social and economic life of the country, it does not deserve to be the Cinderella it undoubtedly is.

The signs are, however, that the tide is turning. The Medical Research Council has started to consider back pain research seriously and the Government has proposed that back pain should be considered as a future priority.

But when a complaint costs the country pounds 3bn in lost output, and the number of workers off sick each day equals a city the size of Coventry, did we really have to wait quite so long for it to get on to the agenda?

Yours faithfully,

MERVYN BRYN-JONES

National Back Pain Association

Teddington, Middlesex

17 September

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