Hand holding red and white tablets

The pharmaceutical industry

It’s hard to imagine a world in which there are no antibiotics, no relief from common illnesses like asthma and diabetes, or hope of new treatment for fatal diseases. The medicines that are available for doctors to prescribe are made, and most of them were discovered, by pharmaceutical companies.

In 2010, pharmaceutical companies in the UK spent £4.6 billion on pharmaceutical research and development – that’s an investment of over £12.5 million every day. To put it in context, well over a quarter of all UK industry-supported research and development comes from the pharmaceutical industry.

Why work in pharmaceuticals? 
The fact is, one third of the population of Great Britain has a chronic or long-term illness, and in people over 75 this ratio rises to 70%. So, although we're certainly achieving great things, there's still a lot of work to be done.

Who works in pharmaceuticals?
The industry in the UK employs around 67,000 people, including 25,000 in research and development. In addition, the industry generates thousands more jobs in related industries.

Further information


Case study

Chemistry (discovery)

Stephanie, Research Chemist, smiling at the camera in the laboratoryMy experience of doing a Nuffield Bursary encouraged me to do an MChem degree