While the initial discovery of a new pharmaceutical compound is impressive, the truth of the matter is that producing any drug for public use takes a great deal of time and effort. In fact, an average of twenty years will elapse between the invention of a compound and its release to the general population. What are some of the general steps that must take place during this process?
First, a company will identify a certain disease and begin searching for chemicals that can combat this ailment. Of course, a great deal of research (and many different trials) needs to take place before a potential drug is discovered. This can take between one and three years. Questions such as how a drug will interact within the body, its toxicity, how it can be made, the cost and if the drug can possibly convert to other (more dangerous) compounds are addressed.
During this short period of time, a company is attempting to get approval for human-based clinical trials. Also, the patenting process will begin.
Financial concerns will also be addressed. How much will the drug cost to make? Are facilities able to produce it easily? Does new equipment also need to be invented on a large-scale basis? These are only a few of the questions that will be addressed.
Assuming that the first two steps are completed, the compound will then be tested on small groups of human subjects. Depending on the effects, its chemical makeup may be modified or it could be scrapped altogether. Although this is not simply trial and error, a great deal of safety measures need to take place in order to guarantee that the compound is not dangerous and it will not produce any sever side effects. So, this is the main reason why such trials can last for years before they are finally completed.
Although much publicity is given to the initial “spark ” of inspiration when a drug is discovered, we should never forget that a massive amount of labour will take place before we are ever aware of its existence. While some may think these steps to be inefficient, they are fundamental in guaranteeing the safety of our family, friends and loved ones.