Medical Industry

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Medical Industry


the industry that manufactures medicines and medical equipment for public health treatment and prevention institutions and for the needs of the public.

The medical industry in the USSR has three branches; the chemical and pharmaceuticals industry, the medical instruments industry, and the medical glass, porcelain, and plastic products industry. The chemical and pharmaceuticals industry includes enterprises manufacturing synthetic drugs, medications from plant materials, vitamins, endocrine preparations from animal materials, antibiotics, blood substitutes, bacterial preparations, bandaging materials, and other agents used in therapeutic and preventive medicine. The medical instruments industry includes enterprises manufacturing medical instruments and equipment. The medical glass, porcelain, and plastic products industry manufactures pharmaceutical glassware and earthenware, dentures, and dental and prosthetic materials. Enterprises of certain industrial ministries also produce small amounts of medical preparations and some medical equipment.

In Russia the first organizations specializing in the production of drugs and medical instruments were established in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, an industry for the manufacture of drugs and medical equipment was never created. The demand for these products was satisfied principally by imports.

After the October Revolution of 1917 the medical industry of the USSR developed rapidly as an independent branch of industry. During the early five-year plans small, inadequately equipped plants and workshops for the manufacture of medical instruments were replaced by specialized chemical and pharmaceuticals and medical instrument plants and enterprises producing medical items made of glass and porcelain. In addition, the scientific base of the industry was broadened significantly.

These improvements helped provide the public with the necessary drugs and medical technology. For example, during the second five-year plan (1933-37) a chemical and pharmaceuticals plant built in the settlement of Staraia Kupavna (Moscow Oblast) to manufacture the antimalarial preparation quinacrine substantially facilitated the elimination of malaria as a mass disease.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) plants were built quickly in the Urals and Siberia. Some of these were begun with the human and material resources of enterprises evacuated from front-line areas. The medical industry continued to develop at a rapid pace after the war, owing to the modernization and reequipping of operating plants and the construction of new ones. The technical level of production rose substantially. Scientific advances made possible the development of an antibiotics industry in the 1940’s. In the following years this industry expanded considerably. An industry for the manufacture of synthetic sex hormones and new antituberculosis drugs was organized at the beginning of the 1950’s, a period that also saw the development of methods for obtaining and industrially producing synthetic vitamins. In the 1960’s large enterprises for the manufacture of vitamins were constructed.

From 1961 to 1973 enterprises of the pharmaceuticals industry began to produce many drugs that are effective in the treatment of cardiovascular, bacterial, viral, neurological, and mental diseases. Plans were developed and industrial output arranged for new types of medical instruments and technical devices for diagnosis and treatment, including suture equipment, ultrasonic equipment, a respiratory anesthesia apparatus, endoscopic instruments, an artificial blood circulation apparatus, an artificial kidney, instruments for automating clinical and diagnostic tests, blood transfusion systems, sterile medical syringes made of various polymers, stomatological materials, and agents for dental prostheses.

As of 1973, more than 2,000 different drugs and more than 4,000 kinds of medical equipment were being manufactured. By 1972, the total volume of production of the medical industry was more than four times that of 1960. The volume of antibiotics produced had risen 5.6 times.

The manufacture of drugs and certain types of medical equipment is developing successfully in Bulgaria, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, and other socialist countries. By comparison with 1960, the 1970 production of medications had grown 11 times in Bulgaria, 5.6 times in Poland, and 3.7 times in Hungary. Pharmaceuticals production is also expanding rapidly in a number of developing countries. The USSR is assisting them in the design and construction of facilities for a medical industry.

The manufacture of drugs and medical equipment is increasing in all industrially developed capitalist countries. Drugs are produced chiefly by large specialized pharmaceuticals monopolies, which, as a rule, have numerous branches in various countries. After World War II the annual growth of pharmaceutical production averaged more than 9 percent. Medical equipment manufacture in many of these countries represents an independent branch of industry. In addition to conglomerates for the manufacture of medical instruments and optometric items, special enterprises and departments have been created for the production of medical instruments and equipment by large machine-building and instruments monopolies. The manufacture of medical instruments and devices has also been organized by some pharmaceutical monopolies.


Materialy XXIV s”ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1971. Page 260.
50 let sovetskogo zdravookhraneniia: 1917-1967. Moscow, 1967. (Collection of articles.)
Voevodin, E. N. Farmatsevticheskaia promyshlennost’ kapitalisticheskikh stran. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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