Montreal, Wednesday, June 18, 2014 – At an important conference in Chicago a few weeks ago, over 25,000 doctors and researchers from around the world gathered to hear about several new breakthroughs in targeted therapies like immunotherapy that will play a leading role in the fight against cancer. This is a promising new sector in the field of pharmacology, but this kind of innovation has been going on for some time, as highlighted in a new Economic Note published today by the Montreal Economic Institute. The publication explores a few of the most important contributions of the pharmaceutical field to have marked the last century.
In the early 1900s, the main causes of death were diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, smallpox, diphtheria, polio, influenza and bronchitis. Before mass immunization, populations lived under the constant threat of being hit by various infectious disease epidemics.
“Thanks to the pharmaceutical industry, new drugs and vaccines were developed that led to more effective treatments for many diseases, and even to outright cures for many others that were long considered incurable. It would be hard to think of an innovation in the field of health care that has saved more lives than vaccines,” explains Yanick Labrie, author of the Note.
As for cardiac diseases, since 1970, the mortality rate from heart disease has fallen by nearly half in the United States. When it comes to cancer, it is without a doubt in the treatment of cancers afflicting children that the most remarkable advances have been made. Today, over 70% of childhood cancer cases that occur in industrialized countries are cured.
The pharmaceutical industry is often the target of multiple attacks, yet it is partially responsible for the growing number of people who are now able to live both longer and also healthier lives than ever before.
With advances in pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine, doctors in the future will increasingly be able to prescribe made-to-measure drugs that take genetic profiles into account. “We shouldn’t pretend that every condition can be treated with drugs, but we must recognize that pharmaceutical research and the therapeutic progress it has entailed continue to be of enormous benefit to patients. All signs point to the cures for cancer and AIDS no longer being too far-off in the future.”
The Economic Note entitled “How Pharmaceutical Innovation Has Revolutionized Health Care” was prepared by Yanick Labrie, economist with the Montreal Economic Institute. This publication is available on our website.
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The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its studies and its conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms.
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