Global pharma sales are predicted to grow to $1.3 trillion by 2018, according to a new report.

Worldwide sales passed the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2014, and the 2015 CMR Pharmaceutical R&D Factbook from Thomson Reuters predicts that this increase will continue coupled with a rise in R&D productivity.

The authors note that 2014 saw the highest number of first-world new molecular entity (NME) launches in over a decade, with 46 such drugs entering the market. They say that this goes against perceptions that the industry is in a “era of scarcity”.

One third of these drugs were for rare indications, and more than 65% were speciality drugs for the treatment of cancer, hepatitis C and HIV.

Cancer in particular continues to attract the highest amount of investments across all therapeutic areas, with the majority of recent launches receiving orphan drug status from regulators

Pharma companies are also improving their ability to “fail fast and cheaply” and process drugs that are more likely to succeed in later phases, leading to steady growth in Phase III pipeline volumes.

“This is an extraordinary year for pharma,” said Basil Moftah, president of Thomson Reuters IP & Science. “Not only do the critical insights provided by the Factbook challenge negative perceptions, but it demonstrates this industry’s continued commitment to creating and employing innovative solutions to tackle its largest hurdles.”