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Pharmacology is the study of drugs and how they affect people. There are many different sections of pharmacology that deal with how the drugs affect the nervous system, behavior, how they affect large numbers of people, and the study of the effects of poison. It was founded in the early nineteenth century and became a large part in discovering drugs. Pharmacologist search and find new medicines and develop them.

When the substances have medical properties they are called pharmaceuticals. Pharmacology includes properties and drug composition, interactions, toxicology, therapy, and medical applications. Early pharmacologists used natural substances, mainly plant extracts. It was developed in the 19th century as a biomedical science that applied principles of scientific experimentation and therapeutic contexts. If you are a pharmacologist you can specialize in clinical pharmacology, theoretical pharmacology or neuro/psychopharmacology. To be a pharmacologist you must know the every medication used in humans and animals. The researchers are also responsible for determining the safety and the effects of the new drugs.


left Psychoactive Drugs: Drugs that affect the nervous system of the body

Clinical Pharmacology - the medical field of medication effects on humans

Neuro- and Psychopharmacology - effects of medication on behavior and nervous system functioning

Pharmacogenetics - clinical testing of genetic variation that gives rise to differing response to drugs

Pharmacogenomics - application of genomic technologies to new drug discovery and further characterization of older drugs

Pharmacoepidemiology - study of effects of drugs in large numbers of people

Toxicology - study of the effects of poisons

Theoretical pharmacology

Posology - how medicines are dosed

Pharmacognosy - deriving medicines from plants

Medicine Development

When a chemist finds an activity of a drug that can be useful they will make many different compounds called analogues. Analogues maximize the effects of the drug to make it more useful. The development of these drugs can take up to three years. It then needs to be determined how safe the new medicine is for human use.

The testing of these new medicines to make sure that they are not toxic to humans can take up to six years to complete and be ready to sell. Because it takes so long to and very few medicines ever make it on to the legal market it can cost millions of dollars. To make up for this loss of money the companies research what type of demand the new medicine will have before they start their research. They also claim the new medicine before other companies can get it for themselves. They also look at where the medication is going to be distributed, how they are going to give the medicine to the people and how it is going to excreted.


The FDA (Food and Drug Administration)has created guidelines for the approval and the use of drugs. They require that all approved drugs must follow two requirements. First the drug must be effective against the disease it was made to fight. Second the drug must be deemed safe after extensive controlled animal and human testing. To acquire FDA approval for a drug will normally take several years. For testing on animals it must be extensive and include several different species to help with the evaluation in both effectiveness and toxicity of the drug. The dosage of any approved drug must fall within a set range where it produces a therapeutic or desired outcome. The safety of prescription drugs in the U.S. is monitored by the federal Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987.