As a nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status, the FIW Foundation covers the actual expenses of a research project, which is often much less than for-profit research firms charge for similar work. These actual expenses cover a wide range of costs:
- Ethical Authorization from an independent IRB
- Preparation and postage for participant supplies
- Travel and training for participating medical centers
- Legal expenses for consent forms and corporate agreements, where applicable
- Consultation fees with independent content experts, where applicable
- Salaries and taxes for research team
- Secure transmittal and storage of protected participant data as required by law
- Open Access publication of findings, where applicable
- Travel expenses for dissemination of research findings
- Overhead costs–web hosting, data collection tools, security certificates, digital utilities, analysis software
Clinical studies vary significantly in cost. A meta-analysis or epidemiological study could cost as little as $10,000 – $15,000 in situations where data are readily available. Original clinical trials for herbs, essential oils, and dietary supplements may cost anywhere from $100,000 to $850,000+, depending on the population, product, duration, availability of measurement instruments, number of outcomes being measured, and other variables.
This is far less than the estimated $19 million average clinical trial for pharmaceutical companies seeking drug approval (John Hopkins School of Public Health, 2018). One reason integrative health is so much more affordable is that the treatments used are often far less invasive and rely on substances that have a lengthy history of use.
The FIW Foundation works to keep research costs low by funding research work through a variety of means, including in-kind donations, community gifts, and volunteer work. However, the Foundation also protects the integrity of the work and human participant ethical requirements, for which there are no shortcuts or cost-reduction options.