In recent years, Turkey has become home to more research activity for a number of reasons, including its unique geographic location straddling Asia and Europe, its emerging economy, its large population with low levels of pharmaceutical use, and the relatively low costs of testing, which still meets European standards. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of clinical trials in Turkey more than doubled.
United States: FDA Approval
Data collected at clinical trials then heads to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval. The approval process and duration vary by drug type; a standard process takes about one year. Once the drug is approved, production begins.
China and India: Ingredient Sourcing
The substance that directly attacks the problem a medication aims to solve is called the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). China produces 40 percent of the world’s APIs, making it likely that one of the medicines you take has Chinese ingredients.
The next stop is most likely India, which produces a third of the world’s medications and is the second-largest exporter of drugs to the United States. India is a frequent provider of binders and fillers—ingredients that hold a pill together and give it shape. One example is lactose, which binds ingredients tightly and bulks up a pill to make it easier to swallow.
After the medication is assembled, it is packaged. Germany is the largest source of the United States’ packaged medications imports—constituting nearly 20 percent.
United States: Distribution to U.S. Consumers
The supply chain ends where it started: in the United States. After wholesale distributors purchase drugs from manufacturers and send them to pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and elsewhere, the final stop for a medication is your medicine cabinet.
The Consumer: What the Global Supply Chain Means for You
Medicines are not the only things that pass through the global supply chain—it’s part of nearly every product in our daily lives, including what we eat and wear. Understanding how products move through the world before they land on our shelves can help us make informed decisions about what we choose to buy, sell, and use.