There are few items more regulated and controlled than medicine, and for good reason. Drugs affect the human body in many ways, and they can be dangerous if they are mishandled. There is a lot of data collection, trialling, and testing done on a drug before it becomes available. This article will highlight some of the steps in the process that ensure medical products are safe for us.
Drugs scrutinised under internal and external testing
Every drug company rigorously tests drugs and other medical processes throughout the development process. Pharmaceuticals often also employ independent testers for contract research. These are firms that can test and verify drugs and other medical products.
Drugs may be tested in a lab on animals in controlled environments. This is known as the preclinical stage, and such testing procedures aim to assess the degree of safety. The findings of these tests are then forwarded to the relevant drug and health agencies. They make their own assessment concerning whether the medication is satisfactory to be tested on real people.
Human trials are the final step
A preclinical study provides fundamental safety information. However, it cannot replace actual human testing in the process of drug safety investigations. Human testing is the only way to ascertain how a medicine will function in conjunction with the organs of a person. Clinical trials are investigations conducted on human subjects to evaluate pharmaceutical treatments. The type of clinical trial depends on the purpose of the medicine.
Types of clinical trials
Tests could be carried out on a drug, a surgical technique, a new piece of medical equipment, or psychological treatment. It does not matter whether the treatment is intended to cure, diagnose, or prevent diseases or other forms of illness.
Some clinical trials determine whether a therapy or medication is less costly or has fewer side effects. Other experiments are done with a number of therapies to determine which is the most effective treatment. Research studies may also be conducted to examine a medication or treatment in diverse populations. Babies and children, older people, or individuals with particular health problems are target demographics given special attention.
The government peripherals in charge of medicine regulation
In most countries, there are laws and government agencies dedicated to the regulation of medical products. The UK’s prime drug regulatory body is the Medicines Control Agency. In Canada, the use of medical products is controlled by Health Canada. These and other agencies like them are commissioned to protect the health and safety of citizens. They do this by regularly inspecting and verifying the compliance of health products found in their respective national markets.
What health products are regulated
All medical products can be thoroughly tested and verified. They include:
- Pharmaceutical items, including prescriptions and non-prescriptions. Drugs for terminal illnesses like cancer or diabetes are also tested. Even veterinary medications for animals are regulated.
- Products that promote organic medical care, including nutritional supplements. Others include herbal remedies and holistic therapies.
- Healthcare equipment for surgery, as well as other medical products. These include equipment like MRI scanners, radiographs, heart rate monitors, and maternity kits.
Why drug verification matters
The companies that make drugs are under a lot of scrutiny, both from the government and in the public eye. Even though they are made to improve health, drugs are not always completely safe. Some medicines and medical products can be hazardous in the wrong hands. This reality is part of the reason why drugs are so heavily regulated globally.
Regulating and evaluating a medical product does not stop once it reaches the market. Monitoring product safety, efficacy, and quality is a continuous process.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.