In this special year, both the NHS and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) are celebrating our respective 70th anniversaries. The histories of these two organizations have been inextricably linked since 1948.

The NHS is a source of great pride for the vast majority of us. The health service is driven by the doctors and nurses and the other frontline staff who deliver the high-quality care, and we have all relied on them at some point of our lives to help us and our families get better. But the NHS is not exclusively responsible for our health.

Scientists and clinicians in pharmaceutical companies work closely with doctors, pharmacists and nurses in the NHS to bring medicines to patients. Today, over 80% of the medicines used by the NHS have been researched and developed by pharmaceutical companies that are members of the ABPI.

In 2016 alone, the industry invested over £4.1 billion just in the UK on R&D, looking for breakthroughs for conditions like cancer, dementia and rare genetic diseases. There are 7,000 potential new medicines in the pipeline right now that may someday benefit the NHS.

70 years of medicines progress

Over the past seven decades, the pharmaceutical industry has been researching and developing medicines and vaccines which have transformed healthcare, both in Britain and globally.

Breakthroughs in medicines have contributed to HIV no longer being a death sentence but a manageable chronic disease; cancer survival rates in the UK doubling over the past 40 years; millions of prevented heart attacks; and Hepatitis C being able to be cured with a 12-week course of treatment.

"This is by no means an exhaustive list but gives a sense of the great achievements made by trailblazing scientists, and the future of medicines will look vastly different than it does today," said Dr. Sheuli Porkess, Deputy Chief Scientific Officer, the ABPI

"We know there is more to do both in the science behind treatments and in our work to ensure NHS patients have access to the latest innovations but together, I am confident we can make the UK one of the best places in the world to research, develop, manufacture and launch of new medicines and vaccines," said Porkess.

Developing the medicines of tomorrow

"I believe that in 2018 we are truly in a golden age of medicines development. Scientists are already working on medicines and treatments, such as gene editing, synthetic biology and cell therapy for diabetics, that will transform the patient experience and change disease as we know it," said Porkess.

Together, with the NHS, the UK can be a pioneer of science. Hemophilia B patients can now benefit from targeted treatment on the gene which aids blood clotting.

Advances in understanding how cells monitor and repair damaged DNA enables us to develop game-changing treatments for cancer. Progress in immuno-oncology means patients’ immune cells can be used to attack cancer cells, and stem cell therapy is treating rare sight conditions.