What Is the Role of the Pharmaceutical Industry?

by Jillian O'Keeffe ; Updated September 26, 2017
Medicines produced by the pharmaceutical industry benefit millions worldwide.

The role of the pharmaceutical industry is three-fold in that it drives innovation of new drugs, tests and produces these drugs safely for human use and also acts as an economic growth factor in its many locations worldwide, employing hundreds or thousands of people per plant.

Discovery and Experimentation

At its most callous level, drug innovation is most efficiently funded and driven by profit. Public funds for drug research are scarce as they are paid for by taxpayers, but businesspeople have the funds to take the risk on a potential moneymaking product. Great innovations that have been brought to completion by pharmaceutical companies include the contraceptive pill and penicillin and other antibiotics and vaccines that have saved millions of lives over the years.

Producing Health Care

With expertise gained over the decades, pharmaceutical companies produce effective medicines to high standards set by organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These medicines are then used to cure and prevent disease in the wider public.

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Economic Benefits

Pharmaceutical companies can be lucrative for people who work there and for government revenues. Multinationals like Pfizer employ thousands of people. Wyeth, before being taken over by the larger company Pfizer, employed 50,000 people, a lot of whom are skilled workers earning good wages. Tax revenue from profits also adds to the public coffers.

About the Author

Jillian O'Keeffe has been a freelance writer since 2009. Her work appears in regional Irish newspapers including "The Connacht Tribune" and the "Sentinel." O'Keeffe has a Master of Arts in journalism from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from University College Cork.

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