How to Start a Pharmaceutical Company

by Andra Picincu - Updated June 27, 2018
Close-Up Of Colorful Pills On Wooden Table

In 2014, the global pharmaceutical industry had exceeded $1 trillion. The United States alone holds over 45 percent of this market. The advances in technology and science are driving innovation in this industry, opening up new opportunities for those looking to start their own business. Whether you want to manufacture new drugs or repurpose existing meds, now is the best time to set up your company. This will not only increase your revenue but also give you a chance to save lives.

Evaluate Your Options

Research the market thoroughly before you start your pharma business and assess your options. Depending on your goals and budget, you can either market medicines under your brand name or start a pharmaceutical company with a manufacturing unit. Another option is to team up with a drug manufacturer.

There are different types of pharmaceutical company start-ups, and each has unique characteristics. These include, but are not limited to:

  •        Pharmaceutical import companies
  •        Pharmaceutical export companies
  •        Pharmaceutical specialty companies
  •        Pharmaceutical franchises
  •        Pharmaceutical branded companies
  •        Pharmaceutical distributors
  •        Pharmaceutical marketing companies
  •        Pharmaceutical OTC companies

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For example, you can launch a pharmaceutical company that manufactures and promotes its products. This option requires a substantial investment and extensive paperwork. If you're on a limited budget, consider starting a pharmaceutical distribution business. Many business owners in this niche start small and expand their operations over time. Some prefer to set up pharmaceutical franchises, which require a minimum investment.

Make a Business Plan

After deciding on the type of pharma business you will start, it's time to craft a business plan. Also, consider the investment and licenses needed to start a pharmaceutical company in your city or state.

A pharma manufacturing company, for instance, will require a production facility, machinery and lab equipment, technical staff, machine workers and office supplies. In this case, obtaining FDA approval is paramount. You will also need an HVAC unit, water and electricity.

License requirements depend on the type of business. In general, pharmaceutical company start-ups form as limited liability corporations. Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website or check with a regional SBSA office to find out what licenses and permits you will need. Make sure that any manufacturers or distributors you'll be working with are licensed.

Decide on whether manufacturing, research trials and distribution will be outsourced or take place in-house. Your business plan should also cover other key aspects, such as funding, objectives, competitive analysis and operational costs.

Research your competitors to see where they excel and what could be improved. Study their business model and then try to come up with something better.

Determine whether you want to launch a pharmaceutical company on your own or partner up with someone. Try to figure out what aspects you can handle yourself and what you'll need to outsource. Also, decide whether you want to invest your own money or borrow from financial institutions. Consider marketing costs as well in your business plan.

Establish Your Brand

Once your business is up and running, take the steps needed to promote it. Pharmaceutical company start-ups usually have a hard time getting their products in front of the medical community. They're competing against big industry names with an established reputation. For this reason, it's essential that you thoroughly research the market and invest heavily in advertising.

Everything from your logo to your brand image and website needs to be planned in detail. Decide where and how you're going to promote your pharma business. Are you going to focus on online advertising, TV commercials or direct marketing? If you can afford it, hire a PR agency or put together a marketing communications team.

Stay on top of the latest trends in the pharma and medical industry. Encourage your staff to attend workshops and seminars. These are excellent opportunities to connect with other industry professionals and build mutually beneficial relationships. Also, make sure your employees know the products inside out.

About the Author

Andra Picincu is a digital marketing consultant with over nine years of experience. She works closely with small businesses and large organizations alike to help them grow and increase brand awareness.

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