Medical Progress: Innovation Over the Years

Everyday, medical research and discoveries take us steps closer to new understandings of the human body and how various viruses and diseases affect them. This ongoing medical research is critical in efforts to provide necessary and ever-improving medicines to patients throughout the world, while also fighting off new diseases and viruses that evolve over time.

How research occurs has certainly changed over time, but why research is needed has not. Doctors, researchers, pharmaceutical experts and others spend considerable time, energy, resources and money to find ways to:

  • Maintain good health
  • Provide vaccines and other preventative measures
  • Identify and protect persons deemed at-risk for illness
  • Provide antibiotics and other medications for short-term illnesses
  • Provide medications for chronic illnesses in order to improve patients’ quality of life
  • Advise on how medication can support new medical procedures to improve their success rates and patient health
  • Slowing disease progression
  • Increase life expectancy and survival rates for patients with various health conditions

Medical research has been conducted for thousands of years, but there have been tremendous breakthroughs made over the past few decades.

Learn more below about medical innovations made in recent years.

Recent Medical Breakthroughs

2015 was a terrific year for medicine development. In 2015, the FDA approved 45 new medicines, the highest amount of medicines approved since 1996. These approvals came after years of development, testing and trials, and now can be made available to patients to help them live healthier, more comfortable lives.

Pharmaceutical research is incredibly important, both for common diseases and for rare ones suffered by fewer individuals. These rare diseases can be harder and take longer to study, as testing their effects requires trials with a smaller population and often, less research overall has been done on the various rare conditions. It’s exciting to know that more than half of the medications approved by the FDA in 2015 were for rare diseases.

2015 medications approved treated medical issues such as:

  • Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Cancer

Treatment breakthroughs over the past few decades have made considerable impacts on patients around the world.

  • The creation of anti-retroviral treatments in 1995 helped the AIDS death rate drop nearly 85%.
  • Life expectancy for cancer patients has increased by 3 years, with more than 75% of those gains caused by new and better treatments. Right now, more than 1,000 new cancer medicines are in development.
  • Medications for diabetic patients have played a significant role in lowering the frequency of hospital visits and complications.
  • Heart disease deaths dropped 30% between 2001 and 2011, in part due to better early detection, treatment and care, with new drugs available to more patients.

Researchers have also learned more about diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s (ALS), and been able to improve treatments for patients at-risk and living with these diseases.

Medical research over recent decades has been supported by improved technology able to support researchers in doing their work, identifying and reviewing treatment responses, and tracking progress. This technology, paired with the efforts of brilliant scientists, has allowed us to make continued steps forward.

Research in Progress

Right now, there is a tremendous amount of ongoing research in progress. Pharmaceutical research currently seeks to provide better treatments (and even cures!) in areas of research such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, genetic disorders, infectious diseases, neurological disorders, allergies, the flu, and more.

Each of these treatments currently being researched will continue to go through a rigorous development process. In fact, medications in development often take more than decade to receive approval, from initial research to ready for patients to use! The wait is worth it, though, as the results help patients lead healthier, happier and longer lives.