Thursday, 28 January 2010

UK - How will the economic recession affect the UK pharmaceutical market?

Reductions in health spending and industry job cuts could have an impact on the market, but an ageing population and a health service under pressure will guarantee an increasing demand for pharmaceuticals.

The UK pharmaceutical market is set to experience moderate growth over the coming years, tempered slightly by the effects of the economic recession. Public spending cuts are likely, as public debt continues to increase, and health expenditure is set to suffer as a result. In 2010 the NHS budget is £102.3 billion, but this could fall by 2.5 to 3.0 per cent per annum from 2011/12. This follows a period of huge growth in health spending under the Labour government, which has seen the NHS budget almost triple. However, the NHS is well equipped to deal with the financial shortage, as it has seen marked improvements in recent years.

Many pharmaceutical companies have announced job cuts worldwide in recent months, in an effort to reduce costs, and many staff based in the UK are likely to be affected. These companies include Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Pfizer. Job cuts are to be expected considering the economic climate, as well as upcoming challenges for these companies, including patent expiries, increased generic competition and slowing innovation.

A number of key pharmaceutical and biologic products are going off patent in the coming years, which will strengthen the generics market. Despite budget constraints, increased pressure on the NHS to cope with the health needs of an ageing population will lead to a rise in demand for pharmaceuticals, and a willingness to invest in new therapies to ensure effective treatments.

Further reading - An in-depth analysis of the UK pharmaceutical market is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: United Kingdom (published January 2010)

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