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How Do Drugs Get Developed in the Pharmaceutical Industry?

Updated: Jan 16

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, drug manufacturers have been scrambling to develop an effective vaccine to eradicate this virus. Thankfully, companies such as Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have developed effective vaccines for treating the disease.

But have you ever asked yourself, “How do drugs get developed in the pharmaceutical industry?” In this guide, we will show you how companies discover new drugs and bring them to market.

Initial Research

Before any discoveries can occur, drug companies must research effective ways to benefit a person’s health in some way. They test countless different molecular compounds in order to see how they work and how effective they are at fighting diseases.

Radiolabeling is an essential component of medical research because it shows researchers the location of a drug within someone’s body due to its radioactivity. Locating where a drug is can help show researchers which body parts the drug affects and whether there are any risks or unintended consequences associated with this treatment.


After conducting initial research, drug companies can start developing potential chemical candidates into a drug that they can mass-produce and sell at pharmacies. They must conduct further experiments to find out a few more things about a chemical before they can be sure that it’s safe and that it will make a good candidate for treatment.

For instance, they need to find the proper dosage, the best way to ingest the drug, any side effects, how it affects different demographics, and how it interacts with other chemicals and medical treatments. Once they answer these questions, the drug must get approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that it’s safe.

The Drug Becomes Available for Purchase

When the FDA deems it safe, a new drug can hit the market, and doctors may start recommending it to their patients. Even after the drug passes through clinical trials and receives FDA approval, it is still closely monitored by both the regulating authorities and the company that manufactures the drug in order to maintain safety protocols. If the drug becomes ineffective or dangerous, it may be recalled from the market until the manufacturer can ensure safety.

Overall, there are a lot of moving pieces that must fall into place before a drug can reach the marketplace. Now that you know how drugs get developed in the pharmaceutical industry, you can understand the important role that research plays in your medical life.

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