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Should we be worried about the pharmaceutical industry?

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

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Whilst the pharmaceutical industry looks to be in good health with global healthcare spending ever increasing, there are signs of trouble ahead already evident in the recent widespread consolidation and job losses. From our perspective it is potentially worrying, as it could impact on the number of treatments available for patients.

The numerous issues affecting the industry are both varied and complex, including squeezing government budgets, reduced impact of new drugs, more targeted drug treatments and the expiring of patents. All of these factors combined are potentially going to impact on pharmaceutical companies profits, whilst at the same time the cost of producing drugs remains as high as ever.

This means that there are two ways forward for pharmaceutical companies. The first option is to reduce their spending on the development of drugs which would lead to a reduced number of drugs being produced. Or alternatively they will have to find new ways to fund the development of drugs, such as increasing the prices of their existing and new products to maintain their revenues. Either option is very concerning as they would both result in a decrease in the number of treatments available in the future, as they are either too expensive to receive funding or too expensive to develop in the first place.

With this increased pressure on the industry to maintain their profits, there may be a knock on effect in the areas researched by pharmaceutical companies into only the drugs which offer the greatest potential for profit. These gaps in research are particularly worrying as patients could be left without any available treatment. Evidence of this practice can already been seen in the lack of available antibiotics or the deficiency in available treatment for the current Ebola crisis.

In order to fill these gaps in research there will need to be a drastic change. Potential solutions include more collaboration within the industry through either research partnerships or further consolidation of companies. Alternatively there is potential for greater involvement of governments and charities to enable research into necessary but less profitable areas.

Monica Izmajlowicz, Leukaemia CARE Chief Executive, said: “We are apprehensive about the direction in which the industry appears to be heading and the impact this may have on patients diagnosed with a blood cancer. Because of the huge variety of blood cancers, with relatively small numbers of patients for each, we are concerned about the impact this could have on the development of new blood cancer drugs.”

View the original article here.