How to Start a Pharmaceutical Company

by Gail Cohen; Updated September 26, 2017

When Money magazine reprinted a Business 2.0 Magazine article about 20 cutting-edge businesses to look for in the future (link below), a unique pharma company concept made the list. “New Tricks for Old Drugs” suggests that if entrepreneurs “identify, patent and market new uses for prescription drugs with expiring patents,” revolutionary outcomes could result without reinventing the wheel. Whether you’d love to take a stab at re-purposing existing pharmaceuticals or you’re a pioneer and plan to manufacture new formularies, expect to make a healthy sum of money while you literally save lives.

Find an investment firm--ideally with experience loaning funds to pharmaceutical start-ups—willing to take a chance on your company. Draft a business plan and present it to venture capitalists you approach. Include goals, objectives, a mission statement, competitive analysis, operational plan, laboratory design proposal and a complete list of the equipment and supplies your company will require at start-up. Anticipate asking for at least $10 million—perhaps more--based on the unique needs of your business plan.

Recruit the best scientific talent under the sun and make certain packages of information about the scientists you’ve recruited are included with your pitch to the venture capitalists on your radar. Pump up biographical data to showcase staffer's accomplishments and biggest discoveries to convince lenders that your pharmaceutical company’s future is solid given the caliber of scientists under roof.

Construct or rent your headquarters building as soon as your search for funding has come to a successful conclusion. Work with senior staff scientists to compile equipment and supply lists. Hire an experienced laboratory manager capable of overseeing everything from the company's day-to-day lab operations to maintenance oversight. Assign responsibility for compiling technical reports and analyses in addition to supervising lab technicians to your lab manager as well.

Apply for and display the litany of licenses and permits your pharmaceutical company will need to occupy your building, certify your scientific staff and permit employees to work with equipment, agents and machinery that may be subject to bio-hazard monitoring by federal and state scientific regulatory agencies.

Hire an administrative staff. Put together a marketing communications team to pursue everything from new brand names for drugs to promotional literature designed to help sales reps place product orders. Create literature to familiarize doctors and pharmacists with your brand and follow today’s trend of creating literature targeted at consumers so they become familiar with your products and your brand. Importantly, assign a point person to oversee your pharmaceutical company's proprietary trademarking process.

Focus on the future by setting attainable goals—e.g., "four products ready for clinical trials in two years" or "25 new drugs with Food and Drug Administration approvals in five years." Encourage everyone to stay abreast of industry news by reading medical journals, taking workshops, enrolling in continuing ed classes and pursuing other opportunities to grow; after all, giving plenty of professional support to employees really is the best medicine of all.

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.

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