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Innovation: Cornerstone for Progress

By Cristobal Thompson - AMIIF
Executive Director


By Cristobal Thompson | Executive Director - Wed, 02/15/2023 - 13:00

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Throughout human history, innovation has been a decisive factor in progress. Since the stone age, humans have always sought better ways of doing things and have discovered new options for survival and the resolution of everyday challenges, increasingly improving their quality of life.

In this way, humanity has evolved thanks to multiple inventions that parted company with everything previously known, leading men and women to reach levels of well-being never imagined, with unprecedented advances in technology, communications and transportation, manufacturing methods, improvements in crops and food, and many other positive developments for daily life.  

Thanks to innovation in the pharmaceutical industry, we have been able to write a history of progress, with the work of thousands of humans who have developed increasingly effective options to beat disease and extend the duration and quality of life. 

In 1950, when the Mexican Association of Pharmaceutical Research Industries (AMIIF) was founded, the health outlook in Mexico was very different. Life expectancy hovered around 48 years. Infectious diseases, such as pneumonia, gastroenteritis, typhus, or measles accounted for 56% of deaths overall and 78% of the deaths among children.

ThankS to vaccines, diseases like whooping cough, measles, and smallpox — still the cause of 6% of deaths in children in 1950—were eliminated or eradicated over time. Antibiotics, meanwhile, put an end to an era in which there were no tools to treat infections. 

Over the next seven decades, the effects of these innovations, along with the expansion of public healthcare and hospital services, increased the average life expectancy in Mexico, which today stands at 75 years, 28 more than in 1950. Vaccines and antibiotics alone are considered to be responsible for a 20-year increase in life expectancy worldwide.

The Challenge of Non-Communicable and Emerging Infectious Diseases

The control of infectious diseases, the growing number of people reaching advanced ages and the increase in risk factors like obesity and sedentary lifestyles produced an epidemiological transition process that in Mexico became fully evident in the 1980s when for the first time, chronic non-communicable diseases became the leading cause of death.

Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity are among the most pressing challenges in healthcare today. Every year they claim the lives of millions worldwide, reducing the quality of life of millions more, and placing a high economic burden on individuals and healthcare systems alike. 

These health challenges have called upon pharmaceutical innovation to step up to the plate to confront these issues with notable medical advances, such as biotechnology, producing positive outcomes that are evident today. For example, diabetes, which was once a disease with a fatal prognosis, today is a manageable condition, with a life expectancy close to that of the general population.

In turn, thanks to improved therapeutic alternatives, mortality from cardiovascular diseases has been reduced between 61% and 74% in many countries across the globe. The death rate from different types of cancer has declined 23% from its peak in 1991. Pharmaceutical innovation has been able to address both these long-standing and emerging challenges.

In 1981, HIV/AIDS, a hitherto unknown disease, became an epidemic. In its early years, most people with the disease died within a year of diagnosis. Now, with timely detection and adherence to treatment, a person living with HIV can have a life expectancy close to that of the general population.

And three years ago, COVID-19, another previously unknown disease, unleashed an unprecedented health crisis whose consequences have touched all areas of human life and rapidly and decisively disrupted the global landscape.

In containing this pandemic, the biopharmaceutical innovation industry has played a crucial role in responding rapidly to this urgent need. In just over a year, it researched, developed, tested, and manufactured vaccines and treatments against this infection. 

In Mexico, we currently have 10 vaccines authorized for emergency use. As of Jan. 3, 2023, more than 225 million doses had been administered, with 63.45% of the population fully vaccinated. Thanks to vaccines, the severity of the effects of the pandemic has been reduced, and we have been able to return to our normal lives with due diligence. 

Innovation means creating new and better things. The pharmaceutical industry is searching for increasingly effective therapeutic options to treat or prevent disease and provide solutions that imply fewer risks and simpler administration processes. 

This inspiring history of progress continues and will continue to be written, with biopharmaceutical innovation taking center stage. Thousands of molecules are currently under development. New and surprising gene therapies for non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes or cancer, will be more precise and target the underlying causes of the diseases so we can get to the root of the problem. 

Through innovation, now with gene therapies, we are heading to the future with the same goal that has driven and motivated us throughout history: to improve patients’ health and quality of life and to beat the disease.

Stay tuned for our yearly event: “AMIIF Innovation Week,” from March 27-30, 2023.

More Information will be available on our website and digital channels: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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