Developing a medication is a very elaborate process. It takes an average of ten years before it ends up in our medicine cabinet. A medicinal product goes through various stages during this period.
1. The illness
If there is no treatment (or no satisfactory treatment) yet for a particular illness, researchers look for a new form of therapy.
2. Finding active ingredients
Researchers initially try to understand how an illness develops. They subsequently develop active ingredients which could successfully intervene in the disease processes.
3. Tests on cell cultures and animals
Researchers do tests on cell cultures and animals to determine which substances could be effective and safe. They further develop the most promising active ingredients.
4. Tests on humans
Healthy and sick test subjects volunteer to have the substances tested on them in order to establish effectiveness, optimal dosage, side effects or interaction with other medication.
5. Submission to the agency of authorisation
Swissmedic, the agency of authorisation, examines all data about the medication. If it proves to be of perfect quality, effective and safe, the agency authorises its sale.
6. Who determines the price?
If the medication is to be covered by basic insurance, the price must be economical and the medication expedient. The price is determined by the Federal Office of Public Health.
7. Market launch
After a medication is launched on the market, the pharmaceutical company informs doctors and chemists about it – directly, at trade congresses and through specialist literature.
8. Use by patients
Doctors prescribe the medication to patients. Use of the medication can in turn lead to new findings.
9. Further development
Sometimes, it is only once clinical studies have been performed that it becomes clear that a medication could also be effective in treating other illnesses. The area of application can be extended after the conclusion of the studies.
10. Ongoing safety monitoring
It is often only once a particular medication is widely used that certain side effects or interactions with other medication occur. The pharmaceutical industry collects this data and amends the package insert accordingly.