Types of Pharmaceutical Companies

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The pharmaceutical industry researches, develops and manufactures thousands of medications for a variety of diseases and health conditions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are three main types of pharmaceutical companies: mainline, research and development, and generic.


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Large and established pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer and Novartis, have a large number of drugs on the market. These mainline pharmaceutical firms have internationally acclaimed research and development laboratories and a large number of manufacturing plants.

Research and Development

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Smaller research and development pharmaceutical companies may not have any approved drugs on the market, but continue to focus on research, such as clinical trial observation. Research and development firms may also be subcontractors for mainline companies requiring additional research support.



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A number of drugs on the market no longer have patent protection.Generic pharmaceutical companies bring these drugs back to the market after patent expiration as less expensive versions.