The published proceedings of the symposium held at the Royal College of Physicians, London in September 1982 by the Office of Health Economics to mark the 20th Anniversary of OHE.

A look backwards also cannot help but encompass the impressive list of British achievements in discovering new and better drugs. The discovery of the first antibiotic — penicillin — was followed by the semi-synthetic penicillins, the cephalosporins and co-trimoxazole. Salbutamol, sodium cromoglycate and inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate have revolutionised the treatment of asthma. Ibuprofen was a seminal advance in the treatment of arthritis and allopurinol marked an important advance for sufferers from gout. Cimetidine and (more recently) ranitidine have had a profound effect in the treatment of duodenal ulceration; and of course many patients have benefited from propranolol and other beta-blockers. These and other achievements speak eloquently of the benefits which flow from what Professor Teeling Smith has described as the tripartite relationship between the industry, the academic world and Government.

The Government role has been, and will continue to be, to foster a relationship which encourages the industry to provide a continuing flow of better and safer medicines for use in the National Health Service and which at the same time enables the industry to sustain its vigorous and successful research and development programme on which the promise of the second pharmacological revolution and the future success of the industry in the UK so heavily depend. Success is of course shared by British and foreign firms alike. It gives me pleasure to acknowledge the contribution which they have made to advancing science and technology, to employment and particularly to the UK balance of trade. With a contribution of £570 million in 1981, the pharmaceutical industry was second only to manufacturers of machinery as a net exporter from Britain.