The cost of Developing new drugs

For all those who think that the pharmaceutical companies are in a conspiracy to make loads of money at our expense, this might be of interest...




The Truly Staggering Cost Of Inventing New Drugs

Please read this article from Forbes?
"And we wonder why new MS drugs cost so much?"




Hi Belinda.

New it cost a lot but these numbers are astounding.

If i had the money i would buy shares in them.

Thanks for posting it.



Someone posted somewhere about how the pharmaceutical companies rip people off with how much they charge for drugs so I did a bit of research. The following numbers are industry sector "return on capital" from the FT All Share Index, 5/2/12. Return on capital is basically how much money companies make as a proportion of how much money they have had to spend to make it. So, e.g., if we spend £100 to make £10 profit, we've made 10% return on capital.


Personal Goods 26.67%

Aerospace & Defence 25.38%

Software & PC Services 23.81%

Mining 23.71%

Electricity 22.84%

Pharmaceuticals 22.14%

Telecoms 21.89%

Household Goods & Construction 21.01%

Chemicals 19.52%

Tobacco 18.70%

Food Producers 17.20%

Drinks 15.33%

Oil 14.87%

Gas & Water 12.09%

Mobile Telephones 5.77%


So, not even remotely at the top of the table!

I think people forget just how expensive it is to bring new drugs to the market. As your post shows Belinda, sometimes billions of pounds for just one!


What's really worrying is that drug companies are beginning to pull out of trialling new drugs in Europe (going to places like Japan instead). It's too expensive and too full of politics and bureaucracy here. That means less trials for us to get involved in. It also potentially means less drugs that are suitable for us (genetics vary around the world). Not goodletdown

Karen x

Crikey, Belinda.  Thanks for posting this.  My Goodness, you need to have long pockets, or a spectacularly good credit rating, to be a drug company.

It would be interesting to know how much of the research spend can be attributed (in retrospect!) to drugs that actually make it to market, as opposed to the many that are still-born.

It's no wonder they have to load the cost onto their success stories -  and I'm sure they are very good at explaining this necessity to NICE! - but I guess the trick is to be tough enough on the companies to keep them honest, but not so tough that you kill the research goose that lays the golden eggs of the future.




Thanlk you for a good post. My view on it is that globally MS drugs are worth £6 BILLION a year to the drug companies.Where is the motivation to cure us all and go broke?



Being purely cynical, the motivation is to do it first because, if they don’t, someone else will grab the patent and make all the money. Plus, a cure isn’t a preventative - it will be needed forever for new cases. LOADS of dosh!


Don’t ever feel sorry for any drug’s company, in most cases they have a licence to print money, but of course you will only hear them whinge about costs. I am confidant that a cash poor drug’s company cannot be named. In fact the owner of one such company, is in the region of the second richest person in the world !!.

This is why I object and vote against the MS Society, providing funds for MS prevention or cure drugs, because when such drug’s are formulated, will the drug’s company give any credit to the MS society and their supporters, like hell they will, it will be two fingers in the air, as they rush to bank the profits.

Take care.

Chris R.

I. El. (Eng). (Rtd).

Cynic here btw...


It costs millions to research new drugs, somehow I doubt "millions" to us means the same to the companies that do the research. If they find a new drug they make money on it, I imagine they would at minimum break even on the new drug within a year of selling it.

Sure it's expensive but they are a business, don't be fooled into thinking they don't make more money a week then you'll likely see in your lifetime.

So Chris, you’d rather everyone with MS in the world, in this generation and the next, suffer this lovely gift of MS without any hope whatsoever, than the drugs companies make a profit?

Great attitude, thanks for your contribution.

Am I reading that right Chris, that you vote against the MS Society providing funds for MS prevention/cure drugs? Wow… thanks…

Anyone who develops such drugs will be sure to claim credit, don’t think they won’t.

Chris, is the expression ‘cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face’ a familiar one to you?



OMG! Seriously?!


To chris r

Today was a bad day for me and i feel an individual like yourself who say's i and many other's should not have ms drug''s or prevention cures then i will quite happily give you the oppurtunity to explain to my kiddies why mummy is now losing her vision and is now partial blind and if you seriously think that drug's and prevention are handed out like the big issue then i take your research with the contemp it deserves the cat litter tray. I have been fighting with the ms society more recently to get treatment to get anything and the NHS will not fund the treatment due to cost and twit's like yourself who believe we are worthless. As an ex student nurse people always got a dose of there bitterness. I am equally shocked that you have the ball's to be so offensive i don't mind a different view it help's but to disrespect the ms society as many would say never bite the hand that feed's you.


Baffled angry

Incredible piece of logic there Chris, only an engineer could come up with that.

I can be as cynical as the next person when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry, but my concerns are more to do with dubious marketing activity than anything else. Testing of drugs on third world peasants is particularly unpleasant and often has disastrous consequences, which are all carefully hidden. Capitalism eh?

However, I benefit from a drug that has gone through the development process and I am hugely grateful. The MSS should continue investing funds in stuff like stem cell research and personally, I rather like the idea that the next generation will have a better future.


Thank you all for reading the incorrect meaning into my post, maybe you should read it again.

Then tell me were I said I was against the development of drug’s for the treatment/cure of MS.

What I am against is the MS Society, throwing money at fat cat drug’s companies who will, of their own fruition, find a drug or drug’s to combat MS, why are they motivated to do this, because of the vast profits to be made.

Please read posts carefully before making sweeping accusations.


Thank you in anticipation.

Chris R.

I. El. (Eng). (Rtd).

No need to thank me Chris. I quoted your reply so haven’t read any incorrect meaning into it. Please read my reply carefully.

I am glad of my preventative drug so couldn’t care less who profits from it as long as I can get it.

Which drug companies does the MS Society throw money at?

There you go again looking at the bigger picture. Couldn’t you try to be a little more narrow minded sometimes, or have I misinterpreted your words?

You’re most welcome Chris, always a pleasure.

As a matter of interest, which companies do you believe the MSS has thrown money at & can you substantiate that with figures and dates please?

I know they fund a number of university research projects, the MS tissue bank, the myelin repair centre, stem cell research, to name a few. But have they actually given any money to “fat cat drugs companies” or is this an assumption?

Oh I’m so sorry… I’m always doing this. I’ll try to be more blinkered in future but it’s not easy.