Various ailments and symptoms have been made easier to treat in recent years by the production of drugs. The manufacturing industry has become a full scale industry with its marketing, packaging, testing and promotion divisions. Drug treatment is becoming more effective all the time. Drugs are also becoming expensive and questions about the cost of producing drugs are of great concern to many people.
When a new drug is discovered it is difficult and expensive to produce. Large sums of money are spent in packaging and in advertising drug products. In drugs responsibility has to be taken seriously. Safety precautions must be taken or else dangerous mistakes may result to severe damages in the body. Many drugs are extremely powerful agents and can be dangerous if misused. Drugs should be considered as temporary solutions even to permanent problems. Many drugs are taken on prescription to treat pain or disease and a few of the drugs are abused.
The world's leading producers of drugs are Great Britain, Switzerland, Japan, France, West Germany and the United States.
Sources of drugs
Most of the drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry are synthetic drugs. Most of the drugs produced by chemists from laboratories of drug companies are made from chemical elements. Other drugs produced are brought about from plants, animals, minerals, molds and bacteria.
Most of the drugs produced by chemists which are valuable medicines do not occur naturally. Synthetic drugs develope from upon those which are brought about from plants, molds, bacteria, animals, or minerals. Pharmaceutical companies produce these drugs at less cost and in greater quantity synthetically than by using the natural source. An example of this is hormone cortisol which is used to treat athritis and other ailments are brought about from the adrenal glands of sheeps and cows. Drug companies produce it at a lower cost synthetically.
Some sources of drugs
Plants and molds
Many important medicines are made from plants and molds. These medicines include cardiotonics, antibiotics and certain analgesics. The antibiotic penicellin comes from a mold. the cardiotonic digitalis which is used to stimulate the heart is made from the leaves of the purple flower Foxglove. The pain reliever morphine is made from opium which comes from the juice of the opium poppy. Other plant drugs are not produced by the pharmaceutical companies because they are illegal such as the mescaline and the marijuana.
Important drugs including several of the hormones which are used to treat athritis, hormone deficiencies and various ailments are brought about from the cells and tissues of animals. Many diabetes victims use insulin obtained from the pancreas cattle and hogs. Physicians prescribe hormone thyroxine brought about from the thyroid gland of cattle and hogs for patients whose thyroid gland produces too little of the hormone.
Several common drugs are produced from minerals. The mineral iodine used in making tincture of iodine, a liquid that helps prevent infection when applied to cuts and bruises. The powder form which is silver nitrate is rubbed onto wounds to stop bleeding and prevent infection. Physicians also use silver nitrate in mild solutions to treat or prevent certain eye and skin infections.
Chemists and Biologists have learned to insert human genes into bacterial cells that can make the same chemicals that humans make in their own cells. The chemicals are then removed from the bacterial cells and purified for administration to patients. Insulin and interferons are other kinds of drugs made from bacteria. Interferons are chemicals produced by the body as a response to infectious diseases.
Drug research and development
New drugs are continually developed by pharmaceutical firms. To create new products, ideas have to be created although some drugs are discovered by accadent. The idea has to be for a new drug or it has to be an idea to improve the existing drug. The drug has to be developed and tested for its safety. This process can take about 10 years to be completed and tested carefully and this costs millions of dollars.
Creating new drugs
This is a task of a company's research chemist. The drug can be brought about from a natural resource or from a new chemical compound. This can take a very long time. For example some U.S drug company researchers spent two years testing soil from all parts of the world to find new drugs called antibiotics. The project resulted in the development of one antibiotic, Terramycin, which is used to treat bronchitis, whooping cough and pneumonia. In this process of creating a new drug tests have to be performed. The tests start from little animals and if it is safe and effective for little animals it can then be tested to larger animals and then to humans. The drug company has to ask for permission to test humans from the U.S Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) a U.S government agency.
Testing with people
When a drug company receives an
FDA approval it can then perform clinical tests. To check the safety of
the drug, the drug has to be tested on healthy human volunteers. If the
results are saticfactory the drug can then be tested in patients who have
disorders the drug is designed to correct. Most tests can last from several
months to a year. Careful testing is the responsibility of the pharmaceutical's
company. The FDA and drug companies constantly guard against harmful drugs
being sold to the public. Even the most careful testings cannot always
reveal the possibility of harmful effects. An example of such a tragic
happened in the 1960s. Thousands of pregnant weman who took the drug Thalidomide
birth to children with no legs or arms and other diorders. The chances
of such unexpected effects are very small if the drug was carefully tested.
Testing with animals
This help researchers to determine
if the drug is safe and effective. Part of the test is to weigh the animals
to see if the drug effects differ among animals of different sizes. The
results of the clinical test is evaluated by a drug company's clinical
investigator and other scientists.
They also compare the new drug with those which are already in use. If the drug company decides that the drug they have developed is safe and effective, they will have to submit a new drug application to the FDA requesting an approval to sell the drug.
Distribution and sale
A new drug can distributed and sold in one of two ways. This distribution depends on whether the drug is a prescription drug or nonprescription drug. Prescription drugs may only be sold by a pharmacist and only if it is prescribed by a physician or dentist. Nonprescription drugs don't need to be sold by pharmacists and do not need prescription. It is the FDA's decision to determine whether the drug may be sold as a prescription or nonprescription drug.
These drugs include barbiturates, antibiotics and certain tranquilizers. The pharmaceutical company direct it's efforts of the drugs at physicians and dentists since these drugs require a prescription. The company advertises displays at medical and dental meeyings, in professional journals and in mail out literature. The medical service representatives that are employed by drug firms have the responsibility of telling doctors about the product.
These drugs include asprins and some cough medicines. These drugs are considered to be safe enough to be sold over the counter. They don't need prescriptions from physicians or dentists. Any store or establishment can sell such drugs. As a result of this pharmaceutical firms can advertise these drugs widely to the public.
How a drug is mass produced
Drugs are manufactured in a variety
of forms. These pictures below show some of the steps in the mass production