Modern medicines can provide many benefits to patients, communities, the health system and wider economy. They work by immunising, treating or curing patients of diseases and illnesses to improve a patient's quality of life.

  • Immunisations have significantly reduced the incidence of the following diseases  – Polio, smallpox, rubella, measles, mumps, tetanus, chicken pox.1
  • Survival rates for metastatic melanoma almost 50% due to advances in immune therapies.2
  • Hepatitis C is now curable in more than 90% of treated patients.3
  • HIV has been transformed from a death sentence to a manageable disease.4,5
  • Asthma deaths halved globally by improvements in medicines.6


Modern medicines also provide savings for the health system downstream...

  • $1 spent on modern type 2 diabetes medicines returns $3 in health/economic benefits and $4.20 in societal benefits.7
  • $1 spent on cancer medicines is $1 saved in the New Zealand health system.8


1. Roush, S. & Murphy, T. (2007). Historical Comparisons of Morbidity and Mortality for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States. JAMA. Nov 14 2007 (Vol 298 No 18.): 2155-2163.
2. Sznol, M. (2019). Long-Term Survival Outcomes With New Treatments for Advanced Melanoma: Questions Still in Need of Answers. The ASCO Post: 25 Oct 2019. Available here
3. PHRMA. (December 2014). Twenty-five Years of Progress Against Hepatitis C: Setbacks and Stepping Stones. Washington, USA.
4. NHS. (2018). What is the life expectancy for someone with HIV?. Available here (accessed 3 March 2020).
5. Rodger, A. J., et al. (2019). Risk of HIV transmission through condomless sex in serodifferent gay couples with the HIV-positive partner taking suppressive antiretroviral therapy (PARTNER): final results of a multicentre, prospective, observational study. The Lancet, 2019393(39310189), 2428-2438.
6. Beasley, R. & Gibson, P. (2020). Twenty-five years of Respirology: Advances in asthma. Respirology, 25(1), 11-13.
7. PWC (2021). The Economic and Social Cost of Type 2 Diabetes. Wellington, New Zealand.
8. Lichtenberg, F. (2017). The impact of pharmaceutical innovation on the longevity and Hospitalization of New Zealand cancer patients, 1998-2012. (2016) NBER Working Paper. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.