The rapid medical progress in recent decades has not only increased the chance of survival and a cure for many patients, it has also contributed to a considerably better quality of life. Yet there is still a major need for clinical research, and further knowledge is required in order to continue making progress.
Our understanding of the causes of many diseases, some of them common, is still incomplete. We are still at the beginning of research into neurological diseases such as dementia that will play a growing role as society ages over the coming decades. More effective therapies are needed to cure diseases or prevent them from breaking out in the first place. If this undertaking fails, our healthcare system and society will be faced with a major challenge.
Focus on the individual patient
One of the central elements in successful therapy is a focus on the personal needs of the individual patient when providing medical treatment. Important considerations include the patient’s individual medical history, environmental factors and personal factors such as age and gender. In modern medicine, there is also another individual component that is playing an increasingly important role – the patient’s genetic profile.
A field known as personalised medicine aims to use knowledge of the patient’s genetic profile to determine even before treatment starts whether they are likely to respond to a certain therapy. Genetic tests developed in parallel to new medicinal products enable better diagnoses to be made and medicines to be used more effectively. Personalised medicine also enables adverse effects to be reduced.
Reinforcing the innovative strength of the pharmaceutical industry
The European pharmaceutical industry association EFPIA has launched an initiative entitled #WeWontRest to show that the innovative strength of the industry is an important element in achieving further progress in healthcare. The initiative focuses on the development of innovative medicinal products that offer a substantial advantage over conventional therapies and are able to relieve and cure both rapidly and effectively. #WeWontRest uses the examples of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV, lung cancer and leukaemia to show what has been achieved so far thanks to research and where further effort is needed in order to combat these diseases.