Pharmaceutical company

From Academic Kids

A pharmaceutical company (or drug company) is a company licensed to discover, develop, market and distribute drugs.

Most large pharmaceutical companies were founded in the 20th century, and derive their market share from a few well-marketed preparations. Examples are simvastatin (Zocor®), which was marketed successfully for twenty years by Merck & Co. Some of the reason for this is that the process of development, clinical trials and marketing is expensive and takes a long time. After this the company will usually be granted a patent for the drug for about 20 years. Drugs are initially sold at a price higher than after competition is introduced. When the patent for the drug runs out, a generic is usually created by a competing company and released, causing the price to drop markedly.


Recently, some large companies have received a fair share of criticism. Examples are:

  • Accusations of forging or suppressing clinical trial results to maximise uptake of some medications;
  • Accusations of manipulating the market for their products by showering doctors with free gifts, meals in fine restaurants, all-expenses-paid luxury vacations, tickets to athletic or performing arts events, and so on;
  • Criticism for keeping the price of patented AIDS medication artificially high, limiting theraputic options for patients in the Third World. The patents, enforced worldwide by the World Trade Organization, bar the cheap generic manufacture of these medications, and third world countries often lack the economic resources to purchase expensive brand-name drugs from their American and European manufacturers. Pharmaceutical companies claim that lowering the price will not generate enough profits, and cannot be justified given these drugs' high development costs. Proposals to allow the manufacture generic AIDS drugs are not without controversy; it is sometimes claimed that this might cause pharmaceutical companies to move away from AIDS drug research and focus their research on other, more profitable areas. In March of 2001, South Africa was sued by 41 pharmaceutical companies for their Medicines Act, which allowed the import and generic production of cheap AIDS drugs. The case was later dropped after protest around the world.

See also

External links

fr:Industrie pharmaceutique


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