Pharmaceuticals: Drug exports reach pounds 6bn

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British pharmaceutical companies exported medicines worth pounds 6bn last year, according to a review of the industry tomorrow.

The report by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) shows that exports had increased by 11 per cent in the year to November 1996. It says the UK pharmaceutical industry is heading for a record trade surplus for 1996 of pounds 2.5bn.

Trevor Jones, director-general of the ABPI, said he was confident the industry, which employs 75,000 people in the UK, would soon become "the biggest single money earner for Britain". The biggest current export earner is road vehicles at pounds 14bn.

The review revealed that Britons spend an average of pounds 70 per head a year on prescription medicines - they are likely to spend twice as much on tobacco products and three times as much on alcoholic drinks. They required more than 10 prescriptions each in 1996 - one more than in 1995.