We are in a new era of medicine where breakthrough science is transforming care and our approach to treating patients. Robust investment in research and development (R&D) by biopharmaceutical companies is resulting in advances and discoveries unlike anything we’ve seen before1.
The application of genomics to develop personalized medicines is enabling physicians to tailor treatments to the unique needs of the patient, and immunotherapies are harnessing patients’ own immune systems to fight off various conditions, including cancer and rare diseases1.
In the last decade alone, biopharmaceutical companies invested half a trillion dollars in R&D, and these investments are just beginning to yield results, opening the door to entirely new ways to tackle some of the most complex and difficult to treat diseases of our time1.
Today, there are about 8,000 medicines in clinical development around the world. Across the medicines in the pipeline, 74% in clinical development have the potential to be first-in-class treatments, representing entirely new approaches to treating a disease. The future has never been brighter as researchers explore new frontiers that just a few years ago may have been regarded as science fiction but now transform patients’ lives.1.
Νew innovative therapeutic approaches significantly change the course and outcomes of many diseases.
The progress we see today is revolutionizing how we target the underlying causes of disease1,2, saving patients’ lives and improving quality of life1. In this new era of medicine, many diseases previously regarded as deadly are now manageable and potentially curable1. Innovative medicines play a central role in transforming the trajectory of many debilitating diseases, resulting in decreased death rates, improved health outcomes and better quality of life for patients2.
It was long considered an inevitable, though unfortunate, part of getting older. The understanding of the interplay of various genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors and the development of a wide range of medicines have led to major changes in the management of these diseases3.
Tremendous strides have been made against cardiovascular disease over the past 40 years, due in large part to advances in treatment. Since 1980 alone, the death rate from heart disease has declined by more than 50%2.
HIV / AIDS:
Patients diagnosed with AIDS in 1990 could expect to live only some months22,3. Once considered acutely fatal, HIV/AIDS is now a chronic and manageable disease, and an HIV infected patient who receives therapy may expect to live a normal lifespan2,3.This dramatic change followed the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the mid-1990s, which transformed treatment and led to an at least 88% decline in death rates in the United States2 and Europe4.
Just eight years ago, the only available treatment for hepatitis C cured just half of patients and caused debilitating side effects. Today, a broad range of treatments with minimal side effects and cure rates approaching 100% are available for patients with all forms of the disease. The introduction of curative medicines also reduces health care costs previously associated with treating Hepatitis C2.
Cancer is not a single disease but a group of over 100 diseases. Treatment is a complex process with many stages, varying in each patient and from one type of cancer to another. Fifty years ago, doctors had few tools to treat cancer, success was limited and interventions often difficult for patients to endure3.
New medicines drive gains in the life expectancy of cancer patients. Since peaking in the early 1990s, the United States has witnessed a 27% decline in cancer death rates. Researchers attribute 73% of these gains to new treatments, including new medicines. For many patients, emerging cell and gene therapies and immunotherapies transform the treatment paradigm for many forms of cancer and have the potential to reduce the use of traditional forms of cancer treatment—including chemotherapy, surgery and radiation2.
The impact of pharmaceutical innovation on longevity – Data for Greece
Pharmaceutical innovation increased mean age at death by 0.87 years (10.4 months) – about 44% of the total increase in longevity achieved in Greece during the period 1995–20105.
Vaccines - Research and development is, and always has been, at the heart of immunization success.
Germ theory – the identification of organisms that cause disease - has been central to vaccine advances in the second half of the 20th century, with the development of the first vaccines for smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid, TB, and polio3.
As vaccine science continued to develop during the 20th century, improvements in cell culture technologies and other scientific innovations at this time, led to the creation of vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A and B, chicken pox, pneumonia, and influenza3.
Due to vaccines, smallpox has been eradicated and polio nearly so across most of the world. Great strides have been made in reducing measles infections3.To date, vaccines have been developed to prevent 26 diseases, including more recently developed vaccines for hepatitis B, hepatitis A, HPV and meningococcal group B3.
There are currently 258 vaccines in development for the treatment or prevention of diseases, such as cancer, infectious diseases (including HIV), allergies, Alzheimer’s disease and COVID-196.
Innovation brings good news for our health—but also good news for our health care systems and societies.
Innovative medicines decrease mortality and morbidity, keep patients healthy and out of the hospital, reducing the need for costly emergency room visits, hospital stays and surgeries and save money from other parts of healthcare system1.
Innovative medicines are our best bet for confronting the country’s biggest health cost driver, chronic diseases. Cancer, diabetes and heart disease are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, and patients with these conditions account for 90% of health care spending. Continued advances in treatment will be indispensable in addressing society’s health and economic challenges in the years ahead1.