The changing landscape of the pharmaceutical industry

According to the BBC, last year the pharmaceutical industry was the most profitable industry in the world, and with global annual spend on medicine exceeding $1 trillion for the first time in 2014, the industry seems to move from one capitalist strength to the next.

However, the pharmaceutical and medical landscape is changing, with many leading field experts claiming that there is very little innovation taking place that would ultimately push the industry forward - citing that, of the 20-30 new medicines brought to the market each year, only 3 of which could be considered ‘new’.

Typically, drugs and medicine are forever becoming developed for a smaller and smaller audience, with specific drugs now being used to treat very specific illnesses, such as different types of cancer or sexually transmitted diseases; whereas previously, one drug would have been utilised to treat several conditions.

This means that the target market of each new drug that is brought to market is getting smaller and smaller, driving the price skywards – with many becoming completely unaffordable. For example, in America, it costs a patient with Hepatitis C $100,000 for a full-course of ‘Solvadi’ developed by Gilead.

With ecological leaders warning that antibiotics are slowly becoming less effective at treating infections, we may well see pharmaceutical businesses being forced to work together with countries, in order to solve certain ecological issues instead of focussing on profit (we’re looking at you Martin Shkreli).

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