The industry’s global pipeline is very healthy. Globally, at the end of year 2010, there was a total of 8918 compounds in the pipeline across all therapeutic areas, and all stages/phases of R&D. Of these 37% were in preclinical development, 13% in Phase I clinical trials, 21% in Phase II trails and 7% in Phase 3 trials. More information can be obtained from the ABPI website.
The UK has historically been one of the most important sources of new medicines. An accurate measure of how important a country rates in the league of medicines research and development is it's share of the world’s market for newly developed prescription medicines. The UK has dropped in this indicator from 18% in 2000 to just 10.5% in 2009. Many innovative medicines are under development in British laboratories, but medicines research and development is no longer concentrated in the ‘old’ industrialised nations and can be carried out well in an increasing number of countries worldwide.
New vaccines are also being developed. Many of them target the burden of infection in developing countries. Others focus on disease areas which have not traditionally been regarded as targets for vaccine, such as specific types of cancer.
For more information on the wide variety of careers in Research and development, visit the Research and development section in Working in the industry.
I have been involved in three projects where compounds have progressed to clinical trials.