All new medicines introduced into the market are the result of lengthy, costly and risky research and development (R&D) conducted by pharmaceutical companies:

  • By the time a medicinal product reaches the market, an average of 12-13 years will have elapsed since the first synthesis of the new active substance;
  • The cost of researching and developing a new chemical or biological entity was estimated
    at € 1,926 million ($ 2,558 million in year 2013 dollars) in 2014 (DiMasi et al, Journal of Health Economics, January 2016);
  • On average, only one to two of every 10,000 substances synthesised in laboratories will
    successfully pass all stages of development required to become a marketable medicine.

In 2019 the pharmaceutical industry invested more than € 37,700 million in R&D in Europe. A decade of strong US market dominance led to a significant shift of economic and research activity towards the US during the period 1995-2005. Additionally, Europe is now facing increasing competition from emerging economies: rapid growth in the market and research environments in countries such as Brazil and China are contributing to the move of economic and research activities to non-European markets. The geographical balance of the pharmaceutical market – and ultimately the R&D base – is likely to shift gradually towards emerging economies.

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