Health is one of our major industries, employing more than half a million people — 7.1% of the national work force.1 In the 1999–00 financial year its funding reached $55.7 billion, equivalent to 8.8% of Australia's GDP. The major costs are incurred by the hospital sector ($19.1 billion), medical services ($9.7 billion) and pharmaceuticals ($6.5 billion).2 Conventional wisdom would have it that such an extensive and expensive enterprise as ours is underpinned by a lively culture of research and development informing health policy. But is it?
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