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Pharmacy and pharmacology

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Pharmacology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of drug action, where a drug can be broadly defined as any man-made, natural, or endogenous (from within the body) molecule which exerts a biochemical or physiological effect on the cell, tissue, organ, or organism (sometimes the word pharmacon is used as a term to encompass these endogenous and exogenous bioactive species). More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function. If substances have medicinal properties, they are considered pharmaceuticals.

The field encompasses drug composition and properties, synthesis and drug design, molecular and cellular mechanisms, organ/systems mechanisms, signal transduction/cellular communication, molecular diagnostics, interactions, toxicology, chemical biology, therapy, and medical applications and antipathogenic capabilities. The two main areas of pharmacology are pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. Pharmacodynamics studies the effects of a drug on biological systems, and Pharmacokinetics studies the effects of biological systems on a drug. In broad terms, pharmacodynamics discusses the chemicals with biological receptors, and pharmacokinetics discusses the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) of chemicals from the biological systems. Pharmacology is not synonymous with pharmacy and the two terms are frequently confused. Pharmacology, a biomedical science, deals with the research, discovery, and characterization of chemicals which show biological effects and the elucidation of cellular and organismal function in relation to these chemicals. In contrast, pharmacy, a health services profession, is concerned with application of the principles learned from pharmacology in its clinical settings; whether it be in a dispensing or clinical care role. In either field, the primary contrast between the two are their distinctions between direct-patient care, for pharmacy practice, and the science-oriented research field, driven by pharmacology.

The origins of clinical pharmacology date back to the Middle Ages in Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine, Peter of Spain's Commentary on Isaac, and John of St Amand's Commentary on the Antedotary of Nicholas. Clinical pharmacology owes much of its foundation to the work of William Withering. Pharmacology as a scientific discipline did not further advance until the mid-19th century amid the great biomedical resurgence of that period. Before the second half of the nineteenth century, the remarkable potency and specificity of the actions of drugs such as morphine, quinine and digitalis were explained vaguely and with reference to extraordinary chemical powers and affinities to certain organs or tissues. The first pharmacology department was set up by Rudolf Buchheim in 1847, in recognition of the need to understand how therapeutic drugs and poisons produced their effects. Read more...

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An image of the amphetamine compound

Amphetamine is a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the phenethylamine class that is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity. Amphetamine was discovered in 1887 and exists as two enantiomers: levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Amphetamine properly refers to a specific chemical, the racemic free base, which is equal parts of the two enantiomers, levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine, in their pure amine forms. However, the term is frequently used informally to refer to any combination of the enantiomers, or to either of them alone. Historically, it has been used to treat nasal congestion, depression, and obesity. Amphetamine is also used as a performance and cognitive enhancer, and recreationally as an aphrodisiac and euphoriant. It is a prescription medication in many countries, and unauthorized possession and distribution of amphetamine are often tightly controlled due to the significant health risks associated with uncontrolled or heavy use. (More...)


Featured pharmacology articles:

Acetic acid – Amphetamine – Antioxidant – Bupropion – [email protected] – β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyric acid – Icos – Linezolid – Management of multiple sclerosis – Psilocybin – Serpin – Water fluoridation

Good pharmacology articles:

Adderall – Alprazolam – Aspirin – Benzodiazepine – Benzylpiperazine – Clindamycin – Doxorubicin – Frances Oldham Kelsey – History of aspirin – Mephedrone – Metformin – Methamphetamine – Methoxyflurane – Midazolam – Nomenclature of monoclonal antibodies – Percy Lavon Julian – Receptor antagonist – Selective glucocorticoid receptor agonist – Serotonin syndrome – Warfarin

Did you know ..

Aloin

  • ... that aloin (pictured), a natural stimulant-laxative produced by the aloe plant, is no longer deemed safe and effective by the US FDA?

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Albert Hofmann at the 50th Anniversary of LSD Conference.

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