Progress toward New Medicines and Vaccines

The biopharmaceutical industry utilizes its scientific and industrial expertise to build on and advance basic science research into safe and effective treatments and vaccines that can be made available to patients. The biopharmaceutical industry is uniquely positioned to take on the necessary risk to advance research into safe and effective treatments. For example: 

  • On average, it takes 10-15 years and costs $2.6 billion to develop one new medicine, including the cost of the many failures.
  • Only 12% of new molecular entities that enter clinical trials eventually receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. 
  • Approximately 7,000 rare diseases exist today yet only 5% have an available treatment.
  • The decades-long investments biopharmaceutical companies have made in new technologies, research and previous vaccines have prepared the industry to act swiftly, without cutting corners, to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A vast array of public-private partnerships between the biopharmaceutical industry, academia and public sector enables us to expand the frontier of science. Importantly, the biopharmaceutical industry spends on average three times the amount on R&D each year than the total annual budget of the NIH.


Advances in Treatment

  • Progress in the fight against cancer: Since peaking in 1991, the cancer death rate in the United States has decreased by more than 33%. This progress is due in large part to new treatment advances in oncology like precision medicine, immunotherapy and CAR-T cell therapy.
  • Turning HIV/AIDs into a treatable chronic condition. The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the mid-1990s, which transformed treatment leading to over 90% decline in death rates and preventing an estimated 862,000 premature deaths.
  • Harnessing the medical power of the genome. In recent years, biopharmaceutical scientists have been harnessing the power of cell and gene therapies to treat and potentially cure a range of diseases from cancer to disorders of the blood.


Committed to Research

In 2017, PhRMA furthered its commitment to the development of new treatments and cures by establishing new R&D requirements for its member companies. All of PhRMA’s member companies now meet the following criteria:

  • A three-year average global R&D to global sales ratio of 10% or greater; and
  • A three-year average global R&D spending of at least $200 million per year.

PhRMA member companies have invested nearly $1 trillion dollars in R&D since 2000, establishing the biopharmaceutical sector as the most R&D-intensive industry in the U.S. economy. In fact, the biopharmaceutical industry invests on average six times more in R&D as a percentage of sales than all other manufacturing industries.

Through investment in R&D, biopharmaceutical researchers and scientists have gained a better understanding of diseases and a greater ability to harness new scientific advances, leading to tremendous progress in the development of treatments and cures for some of the most debilitating diseases patients face.

Updated as of January 22, 2024

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