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This is not the result of declining investment by pharmaceutical companies, though: between 1998 and 2002, the ten largest pharmaceutical companies increased their collective research and development budget by 31 per cent.
The next stage is human clinical trials. A recent analysis found that the average cost of a so-called Phase III drug trial (the definitive study to prove it is effective) is £51 million.
Chronic diseases, however, are treated with therapies that simply suppress symptoms and are taken for life - for example, cholesterol-lowering drugs or drugs for high blood pressure.