As the average life expectancy is increasing globally, there is a need for innovative medication to provide individuals with longer, healthier lives. In many cases where there is no cure these medications often provide a way for a better quality of life. The pharmaceutical industry is continually discovering and developing new drugs for the market. Over the past decades ^in the past, pharmaceutical companies have developed drugs to reduce death rates related to cardiovascular events (Lipitor), blood clotting (Plavix) and infections (Penicillin).
Drug discovery and development is a lengthy, complex process, and it can take around 12 to 15 years for a pharmaceutical company to take an idea all the way through to market. During the process, there are many stages which take place, from identifying the target and compound, screening the compounds, pre-clinical & clinical studies and finally, marketing of the final product.
The pharmaceutical company will file for a patent on the compound from the point of discovery and it is valid for 20 years. This will prevent other companies from manufacturing the drug, known as a generic product. The pharmaceutical company will, therefore, have very little time to recoup the costs before the generic product is available. The generic product usually tends to be cheaper and therefore more attractive.
Medicinal chemistry has become an integral part of drug discovery and development. Active compounds are invented, identified and prepared through the use of medicinal chemistry by studying the mechanism and mode of action.
Medicinal chemists will design and the make the compound and interact with other disciplines to optimise the compound to be an ‘ideal’ drug.
An ideal drug is considered to be a novel drug when it effectively addresses the target with minimum side effects, has good stability so that it is absorbed effectively and withstands different climates when in its final form, and soluble with a half-life suitable to for dosage once or twice daily.