Pharmaceutical research centres on the development and testing of drugs for medical use. The researchers refine and improve on existing drugs, rendering them more effective. Their work can also focus on creating new drugs and treatments for diseases and illnesses.
Examples of pharmaceutical research creating treatments include a huge range of products. Asthma inhalers, anti-depressants and cancer drugs are all created and refined thanks to scientists conducting pharmaceutical research.
Some research focuses on specific illnesses and conditions, such as cancer or heart disease, where the impetus to find new treatments is generated by the high mortality rates associated with the illnesses. Research and development of new drugs has led to massive increases in survival rates in a whole range of serious conditions, with improvements in cancer treatment perhaps providing the best evidence of the value of pharmaceutical research.
The testing of products associated with pharmaceutical research is usually carried out in laboratories, but controlled testing of new drugs often takes place in hospitals, as part of treatment. This is especially true of drugs which are designed to treat cancer, where clinical trials form a massive part of research and development. For this reason, many pharmaceutical scientists and research facilities enjoy close working relationships with medical professionals and hospitals.
Some products are tested on animals, which continues to cause controversy. Nevertheless, many important breakthroughs in medical treatment can be traced to testing on animals, with a noble aim driving the testing process. This is significantly different to the animal testing conducted in the cosmetic industry.
Much pharmaceutical research is conducted by large drug companies, whose obvious interest in developing drugs is to sell them. While this has led to some accusations of exaggeration when it comes to stating the effects of certain drugs, large pharmaceutical companies still lead the way in much of the important research which is carried out.