The UK is witnessing a threat to its medical research, with investment in new medicines sliding 2% to £3.2 billion in 2004 – the second year that R&D has shown a decline.

“While these are not massive drops in expenditure, they are nevertheless highly significant,” commented the Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry’s Director General Richard Barker. “In an era in which there is global competition for the Industry’s research base, this country must not follow the paths of so many other European nations in creating barriers to innovation, whether through over-regulation or through concentration on the price of medicines rather than their value.”

The UK comes second in the world, behind the USA, in delivering successful medicines to the market. In fact, one quarter of the top 100 drugs globally were discovered there and the country’s pharmaceutical industry invests some 34% of its turnover into researching new medicines. However, the ABPI says this too has been declining, with R&D expenditure dropping from £490 million in 2003 to £424 million the following year - a 13.5% decrease. It is now well below its peak of £532 million in 2000.