Friday, 14 May 2010

UK - How will the aftermath of 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 inevitable, 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. According to the Budget 2010, the NHS and the Department of Health will be required to make savings of £4.35 billion (US$6.81 billion) by 2012/13. This follows a period of huge growth in health spending under the Labour government, which has seen the NHS budget almost triple. 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.

Many pharmaceutical companies based in the UK have announced job cuts and site closures in recent months, in an effort to reduce costs. AstraZeneca announced the closure of a number of its R&D sites in March 2010 leading to 3,500 job cuts worldwide, including a site in Charnwood and another in Cambridge. This follows a further 8,000 job cuts within the company worldwide, which were reported in January 2010. In February 2010, GlaxoSmithKline announced in 380 jobs cuts at its R&D site in Essex, following a shift in the company’s research focus. Furthermore, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca all announced job losses worldwide during 2009, affecting positions in the UK. These 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.

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

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