Clinical Trials

The Industry of New Medicine
Learn About Pharmaceutical Companies

The pharmaceutical industry holds the responsibility of first understanding a disease and then making a new, safer and more effective medicine to treat it. Through an extensive process, new medicines are being developed every day that provide doctors and patients with treatment options that are safer and more effective. And continued medical advancements are helping patients live longer, healthier, more productive lives.

About the industry

The global pharmaceuticals market is a $300 billion industry annually, with six of the 10 largest drug companies based in the U.S. With the cost of new drug development reaching nearly $1.2 billion per drug (or even higher using some estimates) – and taking an average of 12 years to develop – new drugs are a timely and expensive process. A drug being explored needs to show a good probability of a return on such a significant investment in order for companies to fund the research and development necessary to see it through. The pharmaceutical industry remains largely funded by the private sector.

Despite costs, the pharmaceutical research companies in the U.S. remain committed to the discovery and development of new medications, treatments and cures. And with more than 3,500 new compounds currently in various stages of research in the United States – more than anywhere else in the world – advances and breakthroughs are happening every day.

Economic impact

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the nation’s largest research and development sectors, directly employing more than 810,000 people, impacting more than 3 million additional jobs and contributing billions in spending. The medical advancements also contribute to the entire economy. If more people stay healthier, the workforce stays healthier. This leads to lower health care costs and improved accessibility for more Americans.

These companies also partner directly with research institutions and organizations around the country, including universities, medical schools, clinical research companies and local hospitals.

The role of the industry in cancer research and development

More than 1.6 million new cases of cancer were reported in the U.S. in 2015, but new drugs and treatments are being developed to fight cancer and increase survivorship, including 771 cancer drugs. That total includes 98 for lung cancer, 78 for lymphoma and 73 for breast cancer.

The number of cancer survivors in the U.S. has increased from 3 million in 1971 to nearly 14.5 million today, and life expectancy for cancer patients continues to increase. Greater survivorship is attributed to earlier diagnosis and detection, better treatments and improved follow-up care. Advancements are being made every single day in the fight against cancer, and the new innovations around personalized medicine for cancer care are promising.

The pharmaceutical industry and the FDA

Drug safety is a top priority in the pharmaceutical industry, which is why it works closely with the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the safety and integrity of new medications. The FDA regulates several of the steps in the drug development process, requiring extensive research and applications prior to and after clinical testing. More than 300 new medicines have been approved by the FDA in the past decade and approximately 97 percent of them are still on the market and considered safe.

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