Britain has very little to be proud of on the industrial front in the 1980s. Many of its traditional industries — the so-called ‘smokestack industries’ — are in decline.

It has so far begun only slowly to share in the development of the new ‘sunrise industries’ — for example, electronics, nuclear energy, and those based on the latest biotechnologies. Amongst these latter, pharmaceuticals represent an outstanding and exceptional example of British achievement. It is a modern successful innovative industry in which Britain holds a leading position. This booklet does not pretend to be a new empirical economic analysis of the industry’s success. Instead, it is a statement of the continuing contribution which the pharmaceutical industry can make to the medical and economic wellbeing of Britain over the next twenty years.

As a positive statement of the achievements which are possible, this booklet is also a warning of the amount which is at risk if the industry were to be unfavourably treated. Under successive governments over the past thirty years the pharmaceutical industry recognises that it has received fair treatment in Britain. It is proud of the record which it has been able to achieve in the consequent generally favourable social and economic climate. The Office of Health Economics is confident that future British governments will continue to recognise the economic importance of the pharmaceutical industry and that the optimistic prospects described in this booklet will come to fruition.