Discovery and Development

Discovery and Development of a New Pharmaceutical Drug


Typically, researchers discover new drugs through:

  • New insights into a disease process that allow researchers to design a product to stop or reverse the effects of the disease.
  • Many tests of molecular compounds to find possible beneficial effects against any of a large number of diseases.
  • Existing treatments that have unanticipated effects.
  • New technologies, such as those that provide new ways to target medical products to specific sites within the body or to manipulate genetic material.
R & D
drug research and development

At this stage in the process, thousands of compounds may be potential candidates for development as a medical treatment. After early testing, however, only a small number of compounds look promising and call for further study.


Once researchers identify a promising compound for development, they conduct experiments to gather information on:

  • How it is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted.
  • Its potential benefits and mechanisms of action.
  • The best dosage.
  • The best way to give the drug (such as by mouth or injection).
  • Side effects or adverse events that can often be referred to as toxicity.
  • How it affects different groups of people (such as by gender, race, or ethnicity) differently.
  • How it interacts with other drugs and treatments.
  • Its effectiveness as compared with similar drugs.
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