The top two diseases of most concern to people throughout the UK were cancer – 72 per cent listed it as a national priority – and heart disease, cited by 33 per cent. Alzheimer’s came third, with 11 per cent of the public demanding greater national health spending and 12 per cent more research.
The research was conducted by the ABPI to investigate whether treatments in the R&D pipeline matched both public concerns and NHS priorities. Almost £4 billion is spent a year by the UK-based pharmaceutical industry in medicines research, and the diseases with most new treatments in the pipeline are cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and osteoporosis.
“Alzheimer’s disease and dementia cause anxiety and distress to some 700,000 people in the UK and their families and friends,” said Dr Richard Barker, Director General of the ABPI. “The survey that we’ve conducted shows that people want both the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry to make this condition a priority.
“The good news is that there are currently 258 medicines being investigated throughout the world for Alzheimer’s – and UK scientists have a hand in nine per cent of them. More than 40 are already in clinical trials
“It is positive news for patients that there is such alignment between public desire, government action, academic research priorities and industry investment into these major illnesses.”
Industry figures show that scientists in the UK are involved in the development of 33 medicines for heart disease and 312 to treat various forms of cancer.
The ABPI survey also asked people how confident they were that enough knowledge and skills are invested in researching the illnesses about which they are concerned. Overall, nearly two-thirds said they were confident, although only one-third believed enough money is invested into this research.
People want clearer information on the progress being made on clinical developments, and the survey revealed a lack of understanding on which organisations lead research work – in fact, more than 60 per cent of UK biomedical research work is carried out by pharmaceutical companies.
“There is a clear role for industry to work in partnership with Government to ensure greater public understanding of developments in both prevention and treatment of the major health priorities facing all of us in the UK,” said Dr Barker.
“As a result of this research, ABPI would like to work with Government and other key stakeholders to provide an annual ‘state of the nation’ report and inform the public better about all the clinical research – public and private - that is taking place.”
National figures are available on request.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The research into national and regional health priorities was conducted by ICM Research on behalf of Opinion Leader Research for the ABPI. More than 2,000 respondents were surveyed across the UK in November 2007.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press office 020 7747 1410