The FT commented earlier today on the highly provocative report "The Biomedical Bubble" published by Nesta, the charity which, in its own words, 'seeks to promote innovation across a broad range of sectors'.
In short, the report (and article) suggests that the public purse is being mis-spent in the field of life science R&D (c. £4bn - more than any other sector), where 80% of advanced trials fail. Instead, politicians should be set a new priority on prevention, which many attribute the improvement in public health in the past few decades (such as anti-smoking, low-sugar messages).
On the face of it, this appears to make good 'economic' sense - as the journalist puts it "we are getting fewer medicinal bangs for ever more bucks". However, this interesting topic isn't so black and white and it goes beyond Brexit and/or the economic health of the country. Certainly, for me, there is a delicate equilibrium between prevention and treatment and both deserve a slice of the funding pie (be that public or private). But there also needs to be a recognition (as there is with foreign aid) that some of this 'wasted' investment isn't always lost and will hopefully, one day, result in treatments for global conditions such as dementia which aren't ordinarily associated with poor life-style choices.
Whatever your take, the report (and article) make for very interesting reading and should be considered in the round when the UK R&I decide where best to allocate their c. £6bn investment budget.
as far as their contributions to public health and the economy go, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors are more atrophy than trophy