On World Cancer Day, it seems like a good time to pause and reflect on the years gone past, and how innovations and research in cancer have affected cancer care.
Only six years ago, research and development in anti-cancer drugs accounted for just under a fifth of all R&D expenditure by pharmaceutical companies. By 2014, investment in these treatments accounted for nearly a third1. This reflects a recognition of the growing importance of research into cancer care and a commitment by the pharmaceutical industry, alongside charities and academia, to discover more, and better, treatments. This commitment isn't just a pipe dream - we are seeing those efforts in investment bearing fruit now.
In 2015, the European Medicines Agency approved 14 new and innovative cancer medicines. Knowing that we are working hard to contribute to advancing medicine in this area makes me, as pharmaceutical physician extremely proud.
Let's look at how the UK fares in the area of cancer research. In comparison with other European countries, we are fairly similar. Last year, the ABPI embarked on a project through Thomson Reuters, and we were pleased to see that, for example, in terms of numbers of trials taking place in the UK, we were very much in line with performance in Germany, France and Spain2.
One factor in this positive outcome could be down to the clinical and academic expertise of oncologists in the UK. The Department of Health's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has, over several years, invested in developing a more favourable research environment. A review of their most recent data confirms that this investment is paying off. This enhanced research environment, supported by strong clinical expertise, means that the UK remains a draw for the pharmaceutical industry. When pharmaceutical companies are looking at countries worldwide to set up their cancer trials, the UK remains a key country on their list.
We have come a long way in the fight against cancer but we still have far to go and cancer research plays a significant role in the fight. Collaboration between industry and academia is stronger than ever. Together, by sharing knowledge of the science and mechanisms of disease, we are advancing our research. In the next few years, we will see more innovative treatments, offering a greater range of options for patients, than we've ever seen before.
I take great pride in knowing that our industry plays a key role in offering UK patients with cancer a chance to take part in research. Ultimately, it's patients who are at the heart of what we do. Moreover, by supporting research, patients are not only getting access to new, cutting edge, treatment options, they are also paving the way for future generations and helping us take positive steps towards finding the causes of, and potential cures, for cancer.