Currently nine out of ten breast cancer patients overcome the disease owing to advanced cancer therapies and diagnostics. Earlier, rheumatism often resulted in hospitalisation and immobility. Thanks to the developments made in pharmacotherapies, the treatment of rheumatism has moved from the inpatient wards to outpatient care, and the disease no longer leads to the loss of mobility.
The major focus areas of the research-based pharmaceutical companies operating in Finland are cancer, neurology, diabetes and vaccines. Through research, the pharmaceutical industry converts the latest knowledge gained in state-of-the-art medical research into medicines that cure patients. Novel innovative medicines are not the only positive upshot of research: the benefits include, for example, the prevention of diseases through vaccines, the precision therapies made possible by improved diagnostics and advanced follow-up of treatment outcomes.
Benefits to both individuals and society
From the society’s point of view, pharmaceutical research means that people are in a better state of health. This curbs the number of premature retirements and ensures that our elderly have good functional capacities. The healthcare system and therapy practices develop as a result of novel information gained through research.
Pharmaceutical research is persistent work. It takes on average 12 years to develop one molecule, i.e. one novel medicine. Out of ten developed medicines, only three will end up in production and sales that will eventually cover the R&D costs incurred. Globally, the research-based pharmaceutical industry is the sector that invests by far the most in R&D. The pharmaceutical companies operating in Finland invest about 200 million euro every year in research.
In addition to research investments, the benefits to society also include the fact that the research subject patients receive their medicines for free from the pharmaceutical companies, instead of the products being paid by the public healthcare system. Annually, research medicines save about 50-70 million euro of society’s expenses.
Not just research but also production
In addition to research, the pharmaceutical industry also invests in Finland-based production. For example, the international pharmaceutical company Sanofi has decided to concentrate the global production of their insulin pens, used for the treatment of diabetes, in Kontiolahti, North Karelia. The production plant that was formerly manufacturing cell phone covers for Nokia now utilises their competence in plastics to make medicine dosage devises. Sanofi’s local subcontractor employs 200 people in the insulin pen production alone, playing a significant role for the employment and economy of a small locality.
In turn, the pharmaceutical company Bayer is one of the few international groups with the Nordic headquarters still located in Finland. Bayer employs about 800 people in Finland, and their IUD was sold last year to 100 countries for an aggregate of 820 million euro. Last year, Bayer was the fifth biggest corporate taxpayer in Finland.