Pharma...WHAT?

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Pharma...WHAT? 

Abridged definitions for selected pharmacy-related terminology:  

Pharmacy

Pharmaceutical Care

Pharmacology

Pharmacoeconomics

Pharmacognosy

Pharmacogenomics

Pharmaceutics

Drug Discovery (Medicinal Chemistry)

 

Pharmacy

Pharmacy is a licensed health profession in which pharmacists provide information regarding medication to consumers and health care professionals. Pharmacists are "medication experts," concerned with disease state management and safe guarding the public's health in matters relating to medication distribution and use. 

While responsibilities vary among the different areas of pharmacy practice, the bottom line is that pharmacists help patients get well. Pharmacist responsibilities include a range of care for patients, from dispensing medications to monitoring patient health and progress to maximize their response to the medication. Pharmacists also educate consumers and patients on the use of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, and advise physicians, nurses and other health professionals on drug decisions. Pharmacists also provide expertise about the composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties and their manufacture and use. They ensure drug purity and strength and make sure that drugs do not interact in a harmful way. Pharmacists are drug experts ultimately concerned about their patients' health and wellness. 

Professional Commitment: The principal goal of pharmaceutical care is to achieve positive outcomes from the use of medication that improves patients' quality of life with minimum risk. Pharmacists are professionals, uniquely prepared and available, committed to public service and to the achievement of the followings goals. Pharmacists strive to:

  • Cure disease;
  • Eliminate or reduce symptoms;
  • Arrest or slow a disease process;
  • Prevent disease;
  • Diagnose disease; and
  • Alter physiological processes for desirable result in the patient's health.

Pharmaceutical Care

Pharmaceutical care is a principle of practice that concentrates on optimizing the patient's health-related quality of life, and achieving positive clinical outcomes within economic means. According to the American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA), pharmaceutical care requires:

1. A professional relationship must be established and maintained.

2. Patient-specific medical information must be collected, organized, recorded, and maintained.

3. Patient-specific medical information must be evaluated and a drug therapy plan developed mutually with the patient.

4. The pharmacist assures that the patient has all supplies, information and knowledge necessary to carry out the drug therapy plan.

The pharmacist reviews, monitors, and modifies the therapeutic plan as necessary and appropriate, in concert with the patient and healthcare team. http://www.aphanet.org/pharmcare/prinprac.html

Pharmacology

Pharmacology programs differ from pharmacy degree programs. A degree in pharmacology does not prepare graduates to practice pharmacy in the U.S., whereas, a pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree does. Pharmacology programs are offered both in U.S. colleges and schools of pharmacy, as well as other institutions. AACP does not track the availability of pharmacology programs. For information about research careers in pharmacology, visit the Web site for the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Pharmacology is defined as the study of the interaction of drugs with living systems. Pharmacology is an essential component in the study of pharmacy and is included as one of the six major areas of instruction in the pharmacy degree curriculum. Student pharmacists study pharmacology to learn the effects of various doses of medicinal substances, as well as the different ways in which medicine can be introduced into the body. The effects of poisons and the means to overcome them are studied in toxicology. Generally, animal tests are required to learn the strength of drugs. Physicians know a great deal about pharmacology and toxicology; yet, as the expert about drugs, the pharmacist must maintain this knowledge to an even greater extent. This subject has a fascinating history and continues to be relevant in modern times. It deals with a number of questions. For example:

  • What is the molecular site of action,
  • What are the changes caused by a drug in the normal function of tissues and organs,
  • What is the relationship between the dose of a drug and its effect,
  • How do drugs produce their effects, and
  • What happens to drugs once they enter the body? 
  • Since a drug is traditionally defined as a chemical that interacts with living systems, this subject has a very broad relevance—from its obvious importance in the diagnosis and treatment of disease to the impact of abuse substances or environmental chemicals on societies.1


Pharmacoeconomics

Pharmacoeconomics is a branch of economics that applies cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness, cost-minimization and cost-utility analyses to compare the economics of different pharmaceutical products or to compare drug therapy to other treatments. Sometimes referred to as outcomes research. Source: Applied Clinical Trials/Advanstar: www.advanstar.com

Pharmacognosy

Pharmacognosy deals with the nature and sources of "natural drugs"-those obtained from plants or animals, either directly or indirectly. For example, with a drug such as quinine, this study involves the source, the commercial production, the marketing, the chief pure chemicals contained in the drug, and the uses made of the drug and its derivatives. It is one of the six major areas of instruction in the pharmacy degree curriculum  

For more information, visit the Web site for the The American Society of Pharmacognosy.

Pharmacogenomics

According to the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) , pharmacogenomics is…"The science of understanding the correlation between an individual patient's genetic make-up (genotype) and their response to drug treatment. Some drugs work well in some patient populations and not as well in others. Studying the genetic basis of patient response to therapeutics allows drug developers to more effectively design therapeutic treatments."  

For more information, visit the Primers section on the American Association for the Advancement of Science Web site to view the "What Is Pharmacogenetics, Pharmacogenomics and Clinical Evaluation?" page.

Pharmaceutics

Pharmaceutics is a discipline in the health sciences that is concerned with the design, development and rational use of medications for the treatment and prevention of disease. For example, pharmaceutical sciences seek to provide answers to: 

  • What dosage form or drug delivery system should be used?
  • How much of a dose should be administered?
  • How frequently should the dose be administered?
  • How long should the medication be taken?
  • Will the medication interact with other drugs?

In broad terms, pharmaceutical researchers are interested in understanding and improving:

1. Drug Delivery Systems: These range from traditional systems such as tablets, injections, etc., to modern systems such as liposomes, transdermal patches, and those systems which are targeted to particular organs or tissues.

2. How Drug Concentrations in the Body Can Be Optimized: By using computer modeling and experimental techniques, knowledge about the absorption, tissue distribution, excretion and elimination of a drug in the body can be obtained.

3. The Time Course of Drug Action: Through knowledge of drug levels at the pertinent tissue sites, the onset and duration of drug action as well as side effects of particular medications can be determined in individual patients.

While pharmaceutics is a basic and clinical science discipline, it uniquely offers an interdisciplinary field of study which seeks to achieve a better understanding and control of the factors influencing clinical response to drug therapy. Emphasis is given to the application of pharmacokinetics and physical-chemical principles to questions of pharmacological and clinical importance.2

For more information, visit the Primers section on the American Association for the Advancement of Science Web site to view, "Delivery systems and formulation design."

Drug Discovery (Medicinal Chemistry)

Drug discovery, also known as medicinal chemistry, is an interdisciplinary research area incorporating

  • Synthetic organic chemistry,
  • Biochemistry,
  • Pharmacology,
  • Molecular biology, and
  • Pharmaceutical chemistry in the search for better drugs.


The effective treatment of patients with various diseases such as AIDS and cancer depends, to a great extent, on the ability of medicinal chemists to discover new drugs. Immune suppressing medications available today have made possible surgical procedures, such as heart transplants that were unthinkable in a previous generation. Medicinal chemists have the opportunity to not only advance the frontier of science but also to see their work directly contribute to alleviating many of the diseases afflicting mankind. Recent advances in a number of disciplines have created exciting new opportunities for medicinal chemistry. Synthetic organic chemistry has progressed over the last several decades to a level where molecules of great complexity can be efficiently constructed. Large computer databases of chemical reactions and biomedical information enable researchers using local terminals to quickly identify literature that is crucial to their work. This powerful capability permits medicinal chemists to simultaneously keep abreast of developments in organic synthesis and the various biomedical disciplines important for carrying out research at the cutting edge of contemporary medicinal chemistry. X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy are providing an ever-increasing quantity and quality of structural information on enzymes, DNA, receptors and other biological macromolecules.

This information, along with a variety of recently developed computer-based molecular modeling capabilities, allows medicinal chemists to design new drugs in a much more rational fashion than was previously possible. Molecular biology has recently provided the capability to produce larger quantities of pure enzymes and receptors as well as a new way to study how these macromolecules function biologically. These capabilities are being used to identify enzymes and receptors for which medicinal chemists can target new drugs. All of these developments combined provide an unprecedented opportunity for medicinal chemistry.3

Other resources:


1Swamy, Vijay C., Ph.D.

2Boje, Kathleen M. K., Ph.D.

3Coburn, Robert A., Ph.D.

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