Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Pharmaceutical drug development: high drug prices and the hidden role of public funding

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-08-16, 09:05 authored by Stephanie AnnettStephanie Annett
In 2019, the record for the most expensive drug was broken at US$2.1 million per patient. The high costs of new drugs are justified by the pharmaceutical industry as the expense required for maintaining research and development (R&D) pipelines. However, this does not take into account that globally the public pays for between one to two-thirds of upfront R&D costs through taxpayers or charitable donations. Governments are effectively paying twice for medicines; first through R&D, and then paying the high prices upon approval. High drug prices distort research priorities, emphasising financial gains and not health gains. In this manuscript, issues surrounding the current patent-based drug development model, public funding of research and pharmaceutical lobbying will be addressed. Finally, innovations in drug development to improve public health needs and guaranteeing medication access to patients will be explored.



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Published Citation

Annett, S. Pharmaceutical drug development: high drug prices and the hidden role of public funding. Biol Futur. 2021;72: 129–138

Publication Date

22 June 2020


  • School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Research Area

  • Cancer
  • Immunity, Infection and Inflammation
  • Endocrinology
  • Vascular Biology


Springer Science and Business Media LLC


  • Accepted Version (Postprint)