Developing New Medicines - Introduction
Scientists are developing new drugs all the time but before a drug is released it must go through extensive testing.
The testing makes sure it is:
· Effective - to prevent or cure the disease or to make you feel better.
· Safe - make sure the drug isn't too toxic or have unacceptable side effects.
· Stable - to be able to store for a long time and used in normal conditions.
· Consumation and Excretion - to get it to and from its target without damaging any other parts of you body on the way in and out.
Developing New Medicines - Developing and Testing
When a new drug is discovered it must go under tests that can take up to 12 years and can cost millions.
The drug is first tested on cells, tissues and organs to see if they are too toxic (many drug fail at this stage).
They are then tested on animals for the optimum amount of dosage to be given and also the possible side effects.
Then they are tested on healthy human beings with very low doses to see the effect on humans.
They are then given to patients and to see if the drug is effective and the dosage is built up to see its optimum amount.
Placeboes may be used which is where a fake replica of the drug is given to make sure that all side effects are real.
A double-blind trial is where not only do the patients not know if they are being given a placebo but neither does the doctor.
Developing New Medicines - Thalidomide
Thalidomide was used in the 1950s as a sleeping drug and was found out to relieve pregnant women of morning sickness.
The drug had not been tested fr pregnant women and the drug was not safe for developing feotuses. The babies born had severe limb dissorders.
This lead to more rigorous testing.
Thalidomide was then found out to treat leprosy, some autoimmune diseases and some cancers howver it was never given again to pregnant women.