Dozens of new medicines designed for diseases specifically affecting women, children and people in the developed and developing world have been produced over the past five years, and many hundreds more are in the research and development pipeline, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said today.
In addition to discovering, developing and producing medicines, the British-based pharmaceutical industry has also worked with the UK Government on initiatives to help both children and older people while, internationally, it has played a major role in co-operating with national governments, international organisations and voluntary bodies to seek lasting solutions to healthcare problems in the developing world.
"The pharmaceutical industry in the UK is one of the most innovative in the world, and its research programme embraces an enormous range of disease 'targets'," said Dr Trevor Jones, Director General of the ABPI.
"The industry invests nearly £9 million every day in Britain alone in the search for new medicines and has produced an enormous range of treatments that are, in many cases,
life-savers – for example, childhood leukaemia. Vaccines have all but eliminated many of the diseases that used to afflict children, while new medicines to tackle, for example, breast and ovarian cancers have saved or extended the lives of millions of women.
"As far as the diseases that are preponderant among older people, much has been done to understand the causes of conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. There are already many medicines available in these areas, and many more are at various stages of the research process. In addition, we have developed many new treatments for a wide range of cancers, for osteoporosis and for heart disease."
The introduction of the European legislation to encourage the development of 'orphan' medicines - to tackle diseases that affect comparatively few people as well as those of the developing world - has produced a big response in the past two years. More than 160 different, potential treatments are registered under this legislation.
Areas where the pharmaceutical industry has been especially active include:
In addition to these conditions, there are many others for which the pharmaceutical industry has already produced medicines or is in the process of researching and developing them," said Dr Jones.
"It must also be remembered that many diseases make no distinction of gender, age or where you live, and treatments for these are, in many respects, universal."
As well as being the source of modern medicines, the UK-based pharmaceutical industry also has an excellent track record in co-operating with government.
Most recently, it has been an active partner in producing National Service Frameworks (NSFs), which are guidelines of how conditions, or people in certain categories, should be treated in general terms, not solely relating to medicines. Such NSFs have particularly included both children and older people.
Industry carries out about three-quarters of all UK research into modern medicines, but it also collaborates with researchers working for other organisations, including academia, medical charities, the NHS and the Government's Medical Research Council.
"While such collaboration is extremely valuable, it would be quite wrong to suggest that our research endeavour should be determined by the Government," said Dr Jones. "In 70 years of centrally-directed medical research, the Soviet Union produced only one significant medicine.
"The UK-based industry is extremely innovative as well as competitive, with a large and varied pipeline of products, including many for children, women, older people and developing world nations. This must be allowed to continue if these research projects are to produce the medicines that will help people of both sexes and all ages, race and nationalities."
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410