Pharmacology (Greek: pharmacon is drug, and logos is science) is the study of how chemical substances interfere with living systems. If these substances have medicinal properties, they are referred to as pharmaceuticals. The field encompasses drug composition , drug properties , interactions, toxicology, and desirable effects that can be used in therapy of diseases.
Development of medication is a vital concern to medicine, but also has strong economical and political implications. To protect the consumer and prevent abuse, many governments regulate the sale and administration of medication. In the United States, the main regulatory body is the Food and Drug Administration thru its publication of the USP.
Pharmacology as a science is practiced by pharmacologists. A pharmacist is, in most countries, a university-schooled professional in pharmacy - drug dispensation and safety. Clinical pharmacology is the medical field of pharmacology; it mainly concerns poisoning and complex problems of medication.
The study of medicinal chemicals requires intimate knowledge of the biological system affected. With the knowledge of cell biology and biochemistry increasing, the field of pharmacology has also changed substantially. It has become possible, through molecular analysis of enzymes, to design chemicals that act on specific molecular pathway s.
A chemical has, from the pharmacological point-of-view, various properties. Pharmacokinetics is its fate (e.g. its half-life and volume of distribution) in the organism, and pharmacodynamics is its mode of action and potential toxicity.
When describing the pharmacokinetic properties of a chemical, a pharmacologist employs the ADME principle:
- Absorption - How is the medication absorbed (through the skin, the intestine, the oral mucosa)?
- Distribution - How does it spread through the organism?
- Metabolism - Is the medication converted chemically, and into which substances. Are these active? Could they be toxic?
- Excretion - How is the medication eliminated (through the bile, urine, skin)?
Medication is said to have a narrow or wide therapeutic margin or therapeutic window. Those with a narrow window are more difficult to dose and administer, and may require therapeutic drug monitoring (examples are warfarin, some antiepileptics, aminoglycoside antibiotics).
Medication can be classified in various ways, e.g. by its chemical properties, mode of administration, or biological system affected. An elaborate and widely used classification system is the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System.
Types of medication
For the gastrointestinal tract or digestive system
- Upper digestive tract: antacids, reflux suppressants, antiflatulent s, antidopaminergic s, proton pump inhibitors, H2-receptor antagonists, cytoprotectants, prostaglandin analogues
- Lower digestive tract: laxatives, antispasmodics, antidiarrhoeals, bile acid sequestrants, opioids
For the cardiovascular system
- General: beta-receptor blocker, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, cardiac glycosides, antiarrhythmics, nitrate, antianginals, vasoconstrictor, vasodilator, peripheral activator
- Affecting Blood pressure: ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, alpha blocker
- Coagulation: anticoagulant, heparin, antiplatelet drug, fibrinolytic, anti-hemophilic factor, haemostatic drug s
- Atherosclerosis/cholesterol agents: hypolipidaemic agents, statins.
For the central nervous system
hypnotic, anaesthetics, antipsychotic, antidepressant (including tricyclic antidepressants , monoamine oxidase inhibitor, lithium salt, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), anti-emetic, anticonvulsant and antiepileptic, anxiolytic, barbiturate, movement disorder drug , stimulant (including amphetamines), benzodiazepine, cyclopyrrolone , dopamine antagonist , antihistamine, cholinergic, anticholinergic, emetic, cannabinoids, 5-HT antagonist
For pain & consciousness (Anaesthetic drugs)
For the eye
For the ear, nose and oropharynx
For the respiratory system
For endocrine problems
androgen, antiandrogen, gonadotropin, corticosteroid, growth hormone, insulin, antidiabetic (sulfonylurea, biguanide /metformin, thiazolidinedione, insulin), thyroid hormones, antithyroid drug s, calcitonin, diphosponate, vasopressin analogues
For the reproductive system or urinary system
NSAIDs, anticholinergic, haemostatic drug , antifibrinolytic , Hormone Replacement Therapy, bone regulator , beta-receptor agonist , follicle stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, LHRH
gamolenic acid , gonadotropin release inhibitor , progestogen, dopamine agonist , oestrogen, prostaglandin, gonadorelin , clomiphene, tamoxifen, Diethylstilbestrol
For the skin
emollient, anti-pruritic, antifungal, disinfectant, scabicide , pediculicide , tar products , vitamin A derivatives, vitamin D analogue, keratolytic, abrasive, systemic antibiotic, topical antibiotic, hormones, desloughing agent , exudate absorbant , fibrinolytic, proteolytic , sunscreen, antiperspirant
For infections and infestations
For allergic disorders
For neoplastic disorders
- International Conference on Harmonisation
- US Pharmocopea
- Psychopharmacology - medication for mental conditions
- Medicinal chemistry
- Drug design
- List of withdrawn drugs
- Pharmaceutical company