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Encyclopedia > Pharmaceutical

Pharmacology (in 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 through 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.

Contents

Scientific background

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 pathways.


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).


Classification

Medication can be usually 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

For the cardiovascular system

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)

analgesics (includes acetaminophen, NSAIDs and opioids), local anesthetics, general anaesthetics, sedatives, migraine treatment drug


For musculo-skeletal disorders

NSAIDs, muscle relaxant, neuromuscular drug
anticholinesterase, COX-2 inhibitor


For the eye

antibiotic, topical antibiotic, astringent, NSAIDs, miotics, adrenergic neurone blocker, carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, ocular lubricant, mydriatic


For the ear, nose and oropharynx

sympathomimetic, antihistamine, anticholinergic, NSAIDs, steroid, antiseptic, local anesthetic, antifungal, cerumenolytic


For the respiratory system

bronchodilator, NSAIDs, anti-allergic, antitussive, mucolytic, decongestant
corticosteroid, beta-receptor antagonist, anticholinergic, steroid


For endocrine problems

androgen, antiandrogen, gonadotropin, corticosteroid, growth hormone, insulin, antidiabetic (sulfonylurea, biguanide/metformin, thiazolidinedione, insulin), thyroid hormones, antithyroid drugs, calcitonin, diphosponate, vasopressin analogues


For the reproductive system or urinary system

antifungal, alkalising agent, quinolones, antibiotic, cholinergic, anticholinergic, anticholinesterase, antispasmodic, 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, selective alpha-1 blocker, sildenafil


For contraception

contraceptive, oral contraceptives, spermicide, depot contraceptives


For obstetrics and gynaecology

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 absorbent, fibrinolytic, proteolytic, sunscreen, antiperspirant


For infections and infestations

antibiotic, antifungal, antileprotic, antituberculous drug, antimalarial, anthelmintic, amoebicide, antiviral, antiprotozoal, antiserum


For immunology

vaccine, immunoglobulin, immunosuppressant, interferon, monoclonal antibody


For allergic disorders

anti-allergic, antihistamine, NSAIDs


For nutrition

tonic, iron preparation, electrolyte, parenteral nutritional supplement, vitamins, anti-obesity drug, anabolic drug, haematopoietic drug, food product drug


For neoplastic disorders

cytotoxic drug, sex hormones, aromatase inhibitor, somatostatin inhibitor, recombinant interleukins, G-CSF, erythropoietin


For diagnostics

contrast media


For euthanasia

A euthanaticum is used for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, see also barbiturates.


External links

  • International Conference on Harmonisation (http://www.ich.org/)
  • US Pharmocopea (http://www.usp.org)

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Pharmaceutical Business Review - Industry News, Information, Research (548 words)
Panacea Pharmaceuticals has announced that CC Detect, the company's serum- based colon cancer diagnostic test, is now available from Panacea Laboratories.
BioMarin Pharmaceutical has reported that AnGes MG, BioMarin's marketing and distribution partner in Japan, has submitted a biologics license application for Naglazyme to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
Generic pharmaceutical firm Mylan has priced its concurrent public offerings of 1.86 million shares of 6.50% mandatory convertible preferred stock at $1,000 per share, and 53.5 million shares of common stock at $14 per share, pursuant to a shelf registration statement previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Unit-dose Packaging - More regulations may not be necessary - Pharmaceutical International (789 words)
Most efforts to get pharmaceutical companies to convert from bulk or multiple-dose packaging to unit-dose packaging have involved government requirements, like when FDA started requiring unit-dose packaging for iron tablets to minimize the likelihood of an overdose.
But if a pharmaceutical company is shown the benefits it could reap by putting more products in unit-dose packaging, and it is left to make its own decision, the unit-dose format might gain more acceptance.
Dufour and his colleagues understand that pharmaceutical companies may be more likely to respond to reason than to compulsion.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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