The Growth of the UK Pharmaceutical Sector

The UK pharmaceutical sector is booming right now and the forecast is for a healthy future. Back in 2015 the sector was worth $28.8 billion but a new report from GlobalData predicts that with current market trends this figure will rise to $43 billion by 2020. If predictions are correct this indicates an annual growth of 8.4%! So why is this happening? In this post we will explore the reasons behind this trend in a little more detail.

The old and the sick

We cannot discuss the pharma industry without recognising why there is a need in the first place. As with any good business model, it serves to help address a problem and in this case it’s an aging population and increase in diseases. The universal health care provided by the NHS means that everyone who needs care is entitled to receive it so from a business perspective the pharma companies have a captive audience.

Although this doesn’t sound very cheerful what is exciting is the opportunities that the pharma industry has to really make a difference in people’s lives. To improve quality of life as well as saving lives everyday.

With more than a quarter of the population being over 65 by 2046 (up from 18% in 2016) then support from pharma companies to provide for their needs will become even more demanding (and profitable).


Although medicine is a huge aspect of the pharmaceutical industry, it’s not the only essential element. The area of pharma devises is dynamic, innovative and plays a major role in the UK economy.

With a good work ethic and commitment to improving the health of a nation, the UK pharma companies invested £4.2 billion into research and development back in 2013. To support this 68,000 staff were employed including 23.000 scientists and doctors.

An example of the latest innovation that seems simply futuristic is precision medicine  which is a completely new way to approach sickness. The advancements in genetic sequencing means that medical professionals are able to group individuals together based on similar characteristics and provide bespoke medication that meets the needs of their unique bodies more than just universal solutions.

Of course getting innovative concepts like this through development and into the market is a long and expensive process. To speed this up and allow for growth without restrictions the UK government implemented the 2016 Accelerated Access Review which aims to see the best drugs, diagnostics and medical devices through the system as quickly as possible. This is having a big, positive effect on growth and space for innovation.


It’s not just about the drugs; the medical devices market is growing at a considerable rate as well with an annual rate of 4.5%. This equates to a growth from $14.4bn to $17.9bn between 2015 and 2020.

There are big changes being made led by research and development companies within the life sciences sector that are developing, producing and marketing products in the industry. These companies are making it easier for independent products and services to be developed and arrive on the shop floor in record time.

The UK economy has benefited significantly from the pharmaceutical industry and the growth looks set to continue which benefits the UK as a whole as well as the individuals who experience better health as a result.

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