16 Most Advanced Countries in Medicine

In this article, we list and discuss the 16 Most Advanced Countries in Medicine. If you would like to skip our detailed discussion of the medicine and pharmaceutical industry, you can go directly to 5 Most Advanced Countries in Medicine.

Despite the tragedy of the Pandemic, Covid-19 did successfully revolutionize the medical world. According to the National Library of Medicine, the US government invested at least $31.9 billion in researching, developing, and purchasing mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

So while the Global Pandemic caused most industries to crash, the pharmaceutical market was one of the obvious exceptions. In fact, it surged the highest during COVID-19. Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE), crossed the $100 billion mark in annual revenue. The surge in revenue was due to the massive haul from its COVID-19 products. Its BioNTech-partnered vaccine, Comirnaty, earned $37.8 billion, while its oral antiviral Paxlovid fetched another $18.9 billion in 2022.

Other companies like Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI), Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN), and Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) also gained substantial growth during the pandemic period, and their stocks remain the top choice for investors in 2024 as well (See: 13 Best Medical Stocks To Invest In).   

Industry Outlook 

Due to its ever-increasing demand, the medicine market has experienced exponential growth over time. In 2001, the pharmaceutical industry was valued at $390 billion, which then grew by 320% in the next (nearly) two decades. In 2019, the industry stood at a valuation of $1.25 trillion, as researched by the National Library of Medicine

After 2019, when the pandemic took the world by surprise, the medicine industry further experienced substantial growth as countries increased their vaccine expenditure. A report by the OECD says that the pharmaceutical industry invested $129 billion in research and development (R&D) in 2021 alone, of which the majority expense was by the US. However, the average OECD health expenditure to GDP ratio declined from the peak of 9.7% that was during the pandemic in 2021 to 9.2% in 2022. 

While further going into depth of the country-level data, countries that spent the most on health in 2022 were the US, Germany, and France, spending 16.6%, 12.7%, and 12.1% of their total GDPs, respectively. 

As far as number of pharmacists go, according to the 2021 OECD report, Japan is the top country with the most practicing pharmacists, with 199 pharmacists per 100,000 population. Following Japan — Belgium, and Italy have the most pharmacists — 131 and 128 per 100,000 people respectively. 

All in all, the medical world changed drastically post-COVID, and in the next six to seven years, by 2030, new trends and challenges will shape the pharmaceutical industry. For instance, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a crucial role in R&D and will be widely used by companies in various areas of medicine. 

In fact, this aspect of innovation has already started to take shape — Nana Kofi Quakyi, a program manager at the Aurum Institute in Ghana, is currently working to develop an AI model to help healthcare workers prescribe antibiotics without triggering antimicrobial resistance. In his End of Year report, Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, highlighted Nana’s work and prominent use cases of AI in the medicinal world. Gates Foundation is now looking at how AI tools can address major health issues like AIDs, TB, and Malaria. The National Library of Medicine has further endorsed this development, reporting that AI has emerged successfully as a powerful tool in the medical sector. 

Key players in the pharmaceutical industry, such as Sanofi SA (NASDAQ: SNY), Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE), and Janssen Biotech, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), have invested in AI to use it for drug discovery and other purposes. 

In 2018, Sanofi SA (NASDAQ: SNY) partnered with Aily Labs and developed an AI platform called “plai.” The app essentially aggregates the company’s internal data and provides an unprecedented 360° view across all its activities. On the other hand, Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE), which is currently ranked at the top in the pharma world, used IBM’s supercomputing and AI since 2020 and developed new drugs like PAXLOVID, an oral COVID-19 treatment approved in 2022. Entering 2024, both Sanofi SA (NASDAQ: SNY) and Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) aim to integrate more AI within their operations.

Let’s now move to the list of the top countries in medicine.

16 Most Advanced Countries in Medicine

16 Most Advanced Countries in Medicine

16 Most Advanced Countries in Medicine

Our Methodology 

For our list of the most advanced nations in medicine, we’ve ranked them based on three reports. These are the following – Legatum Prosperity Index, 2023, Countries’ Citations in Clinical Medicine, by Institute of Scientific Information, and the CEO-World report of the countries with the best healthcare systems in 2023. 

Legatum Prosperity Index’s health ‘pillar’ measures the extent to which people have access to essential and advanced healthcare services. The Institute of Scientific Information report, on the other hand, is about the number of citations per paper for countries in the field of clinical medicine. 

Lastly, the CEO-World report is based on a statistical analysis that accounted for factors such as healthcare infrastructure, government readiness, healthcare professionals, and quality of medicine among others. 

We’ve scored these three indexes and then averaged out the scores for the top countries in the three reports. We haven’t considered the countries that did not appear in more than one report. The data for healthcare spending and physicians per 1,000 people in our listed countries comes from the World Bank. The list is presented in ascending order of high scores.

16 Most Advanced Countries in Medicine

16. France

Citations per paper: 8.64

Healthcare Index: 48.27

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 80.46

Average: 4.33

Ranked number sixteen, France is known for its rich medical history, having paved the way for modern-day surgeries and chemotherapy. Not only is France recognized for its medical research but also for its healthcare system, which provides universal coverage for residents. In 2023, France spent around 12.1% of its GDP on healthcare which is 1.9% higher than the OECD average. France had 3.2 practicing doctors and 9.7 practicing nurses per 1000 population in 2023. 

15. Austria

Citations per paper: 8.34

Healthcare Index: 54.86

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 80.23

Average: 4.33

According to the 2018 Health System Review Report by the Euro Health Observatory, Austria residents have the lowest rate of unmet medical needs in the EU. Apart from healthcare, Austria is also home to several renowned medical schools, including the Vienna School of Medicine. 

There are 5.4 practicing doctors and 10.6 practicing nurses per 1000 people in Austria as of today, according to OECD. The country also has many state-of-the-art hospitals with high-quality equipment like the Vienna General Hospital. Austria is also known to have one of the highest global expenditures on pharmaceuticals and the country spent $7,275 per capita on health in 2023.

14. Belgium

Citations per paper: 11.56

Healthcare Index: 60.16

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 80.6

Average: 6.66

Belgium is another medically advanced country, with its medical technology market expected to grow dramatically and reach $4.22 billion in 2024. The country has some of the EU’s best medical universities, like KU Leuven and Ghent University. Austria prioritizes medical research, and Austrian researchers have made notable contributions to fields like immunology and cancer research. In fact, Belgium’s history with immunology goes all the way back to 1919, when Jules Bordet received the first Nobel Prize for his work discoveries within the field.

Belgium also collaborates with renowned international organizations like WHO, which further enhances its standing in the medicine industry. In 2023, Belgium spent 10.9% of its GDP on health and had the 7th highest spending on health expenditures in the world.

13. Denmark

Citations per paper: 12.50

Healthcare Index: 48.54

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 81.07

Average: 7

Denmark is considered medically advanced due to its robust healthcare system, excellent medical services, and significant focus on preventative care. It is also one of Europe’s leading medical technology countries, along with Norway, Sweden, and Germany. 

Denmark offers patient-centric services which include online systems where healthcare professionals can access a patient’s data. Denmark has 4.4 practicing doctors and 10.2 practicing nurses per 1000 people as of 2023. According to the International Trades Administration, the Danish digital health market will surpass $1 billion by 2025.

12. Germany

Citations per paper: 7.79 

Healthcare Index: 64.66

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 81.41

Average: 7.33

Ranked 12th, Germany has a rich history in the field of medicine and is the birthplace of prominent scientists like Paul Ehrlich and Alfred Bertheim — the inventors of arsphenamine. It is also known for pharmaceutical industry giant Bayer AG (ETR: BAYN) and has the largest healthcare market in the EU. 

Moreover, manufacturing medical technology companies like B.Braun help the medical devices industry grow within the country. By 2028, the medical technology market in Germany is projected to grow by 4.39%. Germany’s solid health infrastructure and focus on research have helped with its advancements in the medical field.

11. USA

Citations per paper: 13.50

Healthcare Index: 56.71

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 73.26

Average: 7.33

Despite its expensive healthcare system, the US is considered one of the most medically advanced countries with the second most number of citations per paper. The US is a global leader in the medical field and has some of the best medical research institutions like Harvard and Johns Hopkins. It is at the forefront of medical research, especially in areas like medical technology and Cancer research. The US healthcare costs were $4.7 trillion in 2023 and are expected to grow to $7.3 trillion by 2031.

10. Finland

Citations per paper: 12.62

Healthcare Index: 52.1 

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 81.19

Average: 8

Finland is a country that has made major strides in the world of medical research, mainly in the genomics field. It is home to FinnGen, a Finnish biobank, and is one of the world’s leading genomics projects. Finland also has an amazing tax-funded healthcare system and Finnish people are reported to have an 88% satisfaction rate. In 2023, Finland spent $5,599 per capita which is equal to 10.0% of the country’s GDP. Finland also has 3.6 practicing doctors and 18.9 practicing nurses per 1000 people. 

9. Australia

Citations per paper: 9.85

Healthcare Index: 74.11

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 80.36

Average: 8.66

Standing at number nine, Australia has one of the best healthcare systems in the world with respect to testing facilities, accessibility, medical care, and healthcare facilities. The country focuses on medical research, especially in the infectious diseases and cancer research fields. In fact, Australia is an international leader in the Cancer research domain and has made significant breakthroughs in the cancer prevention and support domains. The Australian pharmaceutical market played a major role in Covid-19 vaccine development and the market is expected to reach $10.16 billion in 2024.

8. Japan

Citations per paper: 7.53

Healthcare Index: 59.52

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 86.5

Average: 8.67

Japan is recognized globally for its contributions to the medical research and technology field, with the country’s medical device market projected to reach $94.23 billion by 2032. The country is known for its innovations in regenerative medicine and robotics. In 2023, Japan spent 11.5% of its GDP on health and is on track to advance even further in the field of medicine in the next few years. The future of medicine in Japan holds robot surgeries and telemedicine, which are currently being launched and regulated. 

7. Israel

Citations per paper: 8.14

Healthcare Index: 61.73

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 83.1

Average: 9

Israel is also one of the most advanced countries in medicine as of today. The country spends 7.4% of its GDP on health and has an average of 3.4 practicing doctors per 1000 people. Israel is also home to top research universities like the Tel Aviv University and Weizmann Institute. 

6. Switzerland

Citations per paper: 11.51

Healthcare Index: 59.6

Legatum-Prosperity Health Score: 82.11

Average: 9

Ranked number sixth, Switzerland is known for its world-class hospitals, research institutions, and pharmaceutical companies like Novartis International AG (NYSE: NVS). Swedish researchers have also made significant advancements in molecular biology, genetics, and pharmaceutical development within the last decade. The country provides paid private healthcare insurance to its residents. As of 2024, Switzerland spends 11.3% of its GDP on health which is around $8,049 per capita. There are 4.4 practicing doctors and 18.4 practicing nurses per 1000 people in Switzerland. 

Click to continue reading and see the 5 Most Advanced Countries in Medicine.

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Disclosure: None. 16 Most Advanced Countries in Medicine is originally published on Insider Monkey.

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