Home > Terms > English (EN) > pharmaceuticals


American pharmaceutical companies have proven successful in a postwar global marketplace, competing in the 1990s with ever-growing multinationals like the Glaxo Welcome/Smith-Kline Beecham merger. Large research investments, generally wellcontrolled testing and aggressive marketing have made American products household names throughout the world. At the same time, continuing price increases have made these companies domestic targets for healthcare reform. They have also raised ethical and political questions when necessary medications are not available to the poor in the US, much less for epidemics like AIDS in the Third World.

Drugs are big business—American companies like E.I. Lilly, Schering Plough, Merck, and PfizerWarner Lambert are among the largest international producers. These companies took to the airwaves in a new way in the late 1990s, with the FCC’s relaxation of a longstanding ban on ads for prescription drugs. Now, $1.3 billion goes annually to sell Claritin, Viagra (with former presidential candidate Bob Dole as spokesman), Zyban, Rogaine and other prescription drugs in addition to Tylenol, Tums and other “over-thecounter” (non-prescription) drugs. In addition, manufacturers also seek to influence opinion leaders among physicians and hospitals. Over forty new prescription drugs enter the market annually, coming from $24 billion in research.

Yet pharmaceutical development also responds to existing markets. Hence, in 1999, 25 percent of new developments were linked to senses and the nervous system, while miniscule research moneys focused on tropical diseases not generally found in the US.

Merck, to give one example, gains more than 30 percent of its sales from drugs whose syndromes can be related to America’s problematic foodways—including cardiac issues, hypertension and high cholesterol. Since these companies are heavily involved in the funding of university research, their interests may influence entire areas of study This disparity in potential consumption creates the specter of so-called orphan diseases, dramatized in Lorenzo’s Oil (1992). Early money for AIDS research also was raised outside of corporate channels.

Consumer resistance to the power of big pharmaceuticals emerges in complaints, through negotiations via insurance and through a turn to generics that do not carry patented prices (although the drug industry fights to modify and repatent drugs so as to avoid generic competition). One might also see resistance in holistic/alternative health.

Yet it is hard to fight an industry that may provide life to a loved one or even oneself.

Drug marketing in the US is controlled through the Food and Drug Administration, which gained fame for its rigor—especially with regards to the thalidomide crisis of the 1960s. Since 1992 the FDA has developed a fast track, demanded by AIDS patients and others looking for rapid drug approval; this twelve-month process demands that pharmaceutical companies pay $200,000 per drug. Monitoring afterwards also remains important—four drugs have been recalled in the last decade, including the diet combination Phen-Fen.

Collect to Blossary

Member comments

You have to log in to post to discussions.

Terms in the News

Billy Morgan

Sports; Snowboarding

The British snowboarder Billy Morgan has landed the sport’s first ever 1800 quadruple cork. The rider, who represented Great Britain in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, was in Livigno, Italy, when he achieved the man-oeuvre. It involves flipping four times, while body also spins with five complete rotations on a sideways or downward-facing axis. The trick ...

Marzieh Afkham

Broadcasting & receiving; News

Marzieh Afkham, who is the country’s first foreign ministry spokeswoman, will head a mission in east Asia, the state news agency reported. It is not clear to which country she will be posted as her appointment has yet to be announced officially. Afkham will only be the second female ambassador Iran has had. Under the last shah’s rule, Mehrangiz Dolatshahi, a ...

Weekly Packet

Language; Online services; Slang; Internet

Weekly Packet or "Paquete Semanal" as it is known in Cuba is a term used by Cubans to describe the information that is gathered from the internet outside of Cuba and saved onto hard drives to be transported into Cuba itself. Weekly Packets are then sold to Cuban's without internet access, allowing them to obtain information just days - and sometimes hours - after it ...

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Banking; Investment banking

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution established to address the need in Asia for infrastructure development. According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia needs $800 billion each year for roads, ports, power plants or other infrastructure projects before 2020. Originally proposed by China in 2013, a signing ...


Online services; Internet

Spartan is the codename given to the new Microsoft Windows 10 browser that will replace Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer. The new browser will be built from the ground up and disregard any code from the IE platform. It has a new rendering engine that is built to be compatible with how the web is written today. The name Spartan is named after the ...

Featured Terms

  • 0


  • 51


  • 11


Industry/Domain: Agriculture Category: Agricultural produce


With no genetic modification but just high tech grafting of potato and tomato plants as they belong to the same plant family - solanaceae to produce a ...


Featured blossaries

Game of Thrones Characters

Category: Other   1 8 Terms


Category: Food   5 11 Terms