The population is getting older. Besides improved living conditions, medical progress plays a key role. Each year, we gain two to three months of extended life. According to studies, new pharmaceuticals have provided 40 percent of these gains. Yet, only around a third of all illnesses known today are curable – or at least easily treatable. That's why the researched-based pharmaceutical companies are working flat out to conquer more and more diseases, or at least make it easier to treat them. Especially illnesses that prey primarily on the elderly are the focus of the group's research: cancer,
cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's. Some of these diseases have already seen major progress, which has contributed significantly to the increase in overall life expectancy. For instance, the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease has declined by some 30 percent over the past 30 years! Innovative medications help patients suffering from diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, while improving their lives. Even the few people suffering from rare diseases have a growing range of new treatment possibilities to choose from.

Vfa companies are currently conducting research projects on over 110 diseases. One-third of all projects are focused on improv-ing cancer therapy. This reflects not only the frequency and severity of these diseases (there were approximately 220,000 deaths in Germany in 2010), but also the pay-off of intensive fundamental research into cancer since the late 1980s. This research has yielded numerous cancer-targeted drugs, which either shield tumors from growth hormone signaling or cut off their blood supply. Some have already been approved; many others will follow by 2017.

Thanks in part to new pharmaceuticals, average life expectancy in Germany has increased by three-and-a-half years for women and almost five years for men over the past 20 years. For instance, several drugs specifically designed to target tumors have significantly extended, in part, the average lifespan for many patients diagnosed with cancer.

The innovations of the research-based pharmaceutical companies have made a decisive contribution to the increase in life expectancy. Some 40 percent of the years of life gained are due to the availability of innovative and better drugs.

Above all, the lowering of cardiovascular mortality through medical and pharmaceutical progress has resulted in a significant increase in life expectancy in countries with higher incomes.

The 24 drugs with new molecular entities, which were launched on the market in 2012, are almost exclusively for serious diseases.

65 medications with orphan drug status are currently authorized (a continually updated list can be found at

The Pharmaceutical Industry in Germany

Germany: The Perfect Location for Research, Production and Sales - a publication by GERMANY TRADE & INVEST and vfa
Brochure Download