How medicines become available in the UK?

Each day thousands and thousands of people will take or buy medication of one description or another. Whether this is drugs to control a particular medical condition or perhaps ad hoc medicines to help with a headache or muscle pain the UK drug industry is massive and is one that we all rely heavily upon.

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Medicines are usually produced based upon a market need. This could be due to lack of a drug to help with a certain medical condition or ailment or could be as a result of finding new alternatives that are safer and with less side effects than existing older medications. The drugs will all be manufactured in strict conditions with vacuum conveyor systems like the ones you can see at , being used to contain the ingredients. This not only protects the outside environment and workers from inhaling the powder that is included in many tablets but also helps to ensure that the possibility for contamination of the drugs becomes minimal. The ingredients and finished product are moved along an enclosed system of pipes using a vacuum.

In order for medications to get to the stage where they are ready for commercial manufacture they will have been through a number of processes that included their trial use on participants in clinical studies. The drugs will be used for a particular condition and the participants in the study will be closely monitored to look at any possible side effects that can occur as well as the results on their conditions either positive or negative. These results will then inform whether the drug will be put into mass production.

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Another part of the development process involves applying for a licence following on from the positive results of the clinical studies. The licences are difficult to come by and the clinical studies, as well as drug manufacture has to adhere to high and extremely strict quality and safety standards. As a part of the licence there will be a recommended dosage that should be taken and the medical conditions that the drug is licenced to be used for. In some cases a doctor may suggest that you use a drug for a different set of conditions. In these instances this means that you are using an unlicensed drug. This is slightly misleading in that the drug will have been tested and licenced for particular conditions, just not necessarily the one you are being treated for.

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