7 Things You Never Knew About Pharmaceutical Drug Development
People with chronic illnesses or physical disabilities often require ongoing drug therapy. Whether it’s a pill, an injection, or a patch, pharmaceutical drugs play a huge part in the lives of millions worldwide.
Even if you don’t suffer from any health conditions yourself, the chances are that someone close to you does. And with such a large segment of our population reliant on pharmaceuticals, I think it’s worth taking some time to learn about how these drugs come into existence and how they’re regulated.
Pharmaceutical drug development is a highly complex process made up of many stages (which we’ll discuss more in detail later). These stages include research and development, regulatory affairs, manufacturing and testing, approval, and marketing.
Here are seven things you probably didn’t know about the pharmaceutical drug development process:
1. An Average of 10–12 Years From Research to Market
The time it takes from early-phase research up until a drug is available on the market can be lengthy, averaging more than a decade in some cases! A lot of that has to do with how thoroughly drugs have to go through clinical trials before they’re approved for use by humans. Clinical trials can take years to complete and involve a volunteer pool of 1,000 or more individuals.
These study volunteer opportunities are available at clinical study sites throughout the country. They’re an excellent way to make some extra cash while also making a real impact on the future of medicine.
When you read about new medications being released on the market every day, remember that these were all once just lab experiments!
2. Only 5 in 5,000 New Drugs Is Approved
Out of the five million compounds that get screened every year, only about five thousand make it through and onto the market. Throwing that into some perspective, that’s just 0.01%.
So next time you’re taking some sort of medication, think about all the scientists and study volunteers who helped make it possible!
3. The Average Cost for a Drug Development is $2.6 Billion
Most pharmaceutical companies spend way more developing new drugs than they get back from selling them—sometimes up to ten times as much!
So while there are hundreds if not thousands of nutrients and vitamins out there we could easily incorporate into our diets for pennies, we’re instead buying very expensive chemicals because we lack access to these cheaper substances (and the study-based evidence behind their actual effectiveness).
It’s unfortunate that even though supplements are less likely to cause harmful side effects, they’re not as profitable as pharmaceuticals.
4. Drug Trials Aren’t Just For Humans Anymore
In recent years there’s been an increasing focus on the study of veterinary drugs as well as those used for other animals such as horses and dolphins.
In fact, dolphin-safe sunscreen was developed after extensive studies about how much restriction these chemicals placed on the mammals’ natural environment.
5. Drug Development is a Worldwide Effort
Drug development is a collaborative process that takes place all over the world, from universities to pharmaceutical companies and government agencies.
It’s a massive undertaking that requires countless hours of study and human participation — an endeavor that would have been impossible to pull off even just decades ago.
6. It’s Getting Even Harder to Develop New Drugs
As study after study reiterates the importance of clinical trial transparency as well as the increased study of nutritional substances as treatments for disease, it gets even more challenging for pharmaceutical drugs to pass through the different stages of drug development and onto the market!
But don’t let this discourage you from trying out new medications or supplements—just be sure to consult your doctor before starting on any new medication or supplement regimen!
7. A Huge Majority of Medicinal Compounds Are Synthesized in Laboratories
And out of the small percentage that is naturally occurring, only a tiny fraction have been studied well enough to be approved for human use.
In some cases, plants and other naturally occurring substances have been used as the basis on which to create new pharmaceutical drugs. But more often than not, these compounds require a lot of tweaking and compounding to become effective medications.
So the next time someone suggests that simply eating right will keep you healthy, remember that not everything is as black and white as it seems!
Pharmaceutical drug development is a very complicated and expensive process that takes many years to complete. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get new drugs approved by regulatory agencies. Despite this, it’s important not to lose hope as we continue to search for better treatment methods for diseases.