The pharmaceutical industry comprises enterprises, companies, organizations, which produce and distribute medications and other medical items in accordance to the rights proclaimed by the law. This industry has a special place among other areas of business in connection with its obvious social importance for the population of any country in the world. It is an element of national security. That is why modernization of the pharmaceutical industry currently is one of the priorities in the internal affairs of any developed country.
The first attempts to establish pharmacies occurred in 754 in Baghdad. Later they spread rapidly in Europe. In the nineteenth century, many pharmacies in Europe and North America turned into major pharmaceutical companies. A large number of current pharmaceutical companies were formed in the late nineteenth – early twentieth century.
In the 1920-1930-ies, insulin and penicillin were discovered. They became the most important drugs produced massively. At that time, Switzerland, Germany and Italy had the most developed pharmaceutical industry. They were followed by the UK, the U.S.A., Belgium and Holland. The system of legislation was supposed to regulate the testing and the approval process of the drugs’ usage and related brands. Drugs were legally divided into two groups: the prescription and OTC ones.
In 1950, the systematic researches were carried out, medical knowledge and manufacturing process were improved. During this period, a large number of new medications were developed, including cortisone, and various heart medicines. In 1960 there were tranquilizers and psychotropic drugs such as chlorpromazine, haloperidol, diazepam, which have found very wide application.
In the United States, the share of prescription drugs in total national health care expenditure increased from 4.9% in 1980 to 9.4% in year 2000. New drugs are also extremely costly to produce. Hansen, Grabowski and Lasagna, in 1991, provide the following estimates
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of the cost in millions of dollars of bringing a “new chemical entity” to market, assuming a success rate of 23% for patented drugs (p. 2).
In the U.S., new pharmaceutical products are tested for safety and efficacy of administration of food and medicines. This process includes providing a large amount of preclinical data on the new drug, as well as the three stages of clinical trials. At the first stage the degree of toxicity of the drug is determined by groups of healthy volunteers. At the second stage pharmacokinetics, methods of application and dosage are processed. At the third and longest stage of research the effectiveness of medications for specific patients is determined. Often the fourth stage can be added, it is called post-marketing phase, which provides security of medicine and fixes medication side effects.
In 2006 the total world pharmaceutical market was estimated at 640 billion dollars, almost 50% of which were in the United States. The pharmaceutical industry remains one of the most profitable industries, with a sales margin of 17%.
The biggest pharmaceutical companies are Pfizer, Novartis, Merck & Co, Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline. According to the “Top 50 Pharmaceutical Companies Charts & Lists” (2008)
Pfizer is American pharmaceutical company. It was established in 1849 in Brookline. At first it produced remedy for parasites and citric acid. And now it produces the most popular medicine in the world Lipitor, which decreases the level of cholesterol in blood. In 2008 the annual sales of Lipitor amounted to $ 13 billion. Also, this company is known for such medicines like Pregabalin, Diflucan, Zithromax, Viagra, Celebrex. In 1996, as a result of illegal drug Trovan test in Nigeria (Kano State), 11 children were killed, dozens became disabled. The criminal case against Pfizer was opened, which culminated in the settlement agreement. In the future, companies have filed lawsuits against 546 people. As a result, the experts found guilty of the deaths of four children. In future Pfizer will focus on preparations of biological origin – vaccines and drugs for treating Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
Novartis is a multinational pharmaceutical company, the second in Europe. It is on the 72 place Forbes Global 2000 list. Novartis divides into few subdivisions: Novartis Pharma, Novartis Consumer Health, Sandoz, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics and Alcon. Novartis Pharma is engaged in the creation, development and study of new drugs, as well as the production and sale of prescription drugs used in oncology, immunology, transplantation, cardiology, dermatology, neurology, psychiatry, endocrinology and many other areas of medicine. Novartis Consumer Health develops and produces: OTC drugs (OTC), enteral nutrition health, baby food and accessories, energy and teens drinks, products and services for correction and protection of the products to protect health pets, as well as to protect the health and productivity of farm animals. In 2008, company reduced dependence on the production of prescription drugs (Novartis Pharmaceuticals) and focused on the production of OTC (Novartis Consumer Health).
Merck & Co
Merck & Co was established after World War I on the basis of German pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA. Although, it is one of the biggest companies in the world, it has a lot of scandals around itself. In 2001, Vioxx (main product of this company) was found to be the safest painkiller rated the Office of the Food and Drug Administration USA (FDA). It became clear that the use of the drug dramatically increased the risk of cardiovascular disease. In 2004, Merck & Co was forced to curtail sale of Vioxx worldwide.
In 2012, U.S. supervisory authorities have registered the dangerous side effects of drugs “Propecia” and “Proscar”, which have been approved for use in the U.S. in 1997 and 1992, respectively. After the drugs appeared on the market people began to report unwanted side reactions, which were not specified in the instructions. As a result, it was found that Merck did not post additional information about the side effects “Propecia” and “Proscar”.
The pharmaceutical industry becomes more often in the center of conflicting assessments and has been criticized by the public. The reason for this is that companies are providing the pressure on doctors and medical institutions with the help of sales representatives, including the provision of “marketing gifts” and biased information, aggressive advertising in journals and at conferences, funding agencies and independent health campaigns on healthy life lobbying among doctors and politicians (especially in the U.S.), sponsoring medical schools and medical courses, funding permanent educational seminars with the influence on the content of a summary of health professionals; rentals (attracting), physicians as a paid consultant to the medical advisory boards, etc.
According to independent estimates, the pharmaceutical industry spends on lobbying targets more money than any other branch of the U.S. economy. During the period from 1998 to 2006 companies for this purpose has been spent about $ 1 billion. Drug companies are often accused of “selling disease” (excessive use of drugs) to expand the market of drugs, as well as providing false information to physicians, who as a result patients prescribed expensive drugs, while others may be cheaper and more efficient.
The mission of pharmaceutical industry
I think that the mission of the pharmaceutical industry is to develop medical technology and manufacturing products for the prevention and treatment of various diseases. However, in practice, from the generation of the idea of creating an innovative drug prior to its widespread clinical use, are generally held for many years. At the beginning you carefully analyze the market situation, determine what clinical issues most relevant to the health care system, to assess the particular categories of patients for whom treatment is intended to be a new drug, etc. In future I hope the creation of new drugs won’t take a long time. Because all over the world people are dying from different illnesses which still don’t have treatment.
Scientists develop new technologies that will study the seabed in the search for unique materials and natural elements to create highly effective medicinal preparations of various kinds. Experts predict that this area of pharmaceutical industry has a great future.
While human resources are a familiar environment (the soil and all that dwell upon the earth) continue to decline, scientists are immersed in the depths of the sea in search of new means of treatment of various diseases. Natural biomedicine – is now a popular trend in pharmaceutical science is moving. Two new studies conducted by scientists from the University of California at San Diego, have helped to improve the technology of identification of suitable elements on the ocean floor for use in the pharmaceutical field. Experts say that in the future, this technology can be used to create a new generation of effective drugs.
I think that in the nearest future the civilization will find the way to fight with such serious diseases like cancer, AIDS, tuberculosis and others. I think that people will be able to grow different kinds of cells, which will give a possibility for pharmacists to create a blood substitute. It will save a lot of lives all over the world.