World spending on health totalled about dollars 1,700bn in 1990, or 8 per cent of global income. The share of national income going on health tends to rise as countries get richer, so that the health industry grows steadily faster than the economy as a whole. The potential market for drugs in rapidly growing Third World countries is enormous: China's spending of dollars 7 a year per head on drugs compares with Britain's dollars 97.
True, the World Bank shows that much of that spending - whether public or private - is inefficient. Glamour medicine still triumphs over more effective preventative measures. But the underlying demand for health care is still so strong, and is so far from the point of diminishing returns in Third World markets, that the industry's strengths should not be overlooked.Reuse content