When we pop a simple pain killer, or take any other drug, we often don’t think about how to came to be. But the reality is that these drugs take years and years to discover, develop and administer to the general public. Before a drug can ever come into development, it first has to be discovered by the scientists. There are billions of dollars being spent world wide on the discovery of new medicines but some drugs, such as lithium, are discovered by chance.
Once the drugs has been discovered it will be closely looked at by the governing medicinal body in the country which wants to pursue the development. They will look for things such as the stability of the compounds, what kind of effects it could have on the major organs of the body and also if the drug can be administered. Just because it works in a petr dish, doesn’t mean it will automatically work in a tablet or cream from.
After this comes a very extensive period of clinical trails. These are often split into several phases. First the drugs are tested in healthy patients to make sure that they don’t have any reactions to them, healthy people are used because they are more likely to survive if an error is discovered. They are then tested in a small group of sick patients, this is then expanded to a larger cohort and finally after the drugs has been approved it is often monitored for a set period to make sure it is totally safe to be used.
The price of developing new drugs in incredibly expensive. The total cost can run into billions of dollars. Sometimes drugs which look promising are not developed if there cost is considered too high relative to the benefits it would bring somebody.