Introduction to Pharmacology : Definition, Historical Landmarks and Scope of Pharmacology : Pharmaguideline

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Introduction to Pharmacology : Definition, Historical Landmarks and Scope of Pharmacology

Pharmacology consists of two words: “Pharmacon- which means drug” & “logy- which means to study something”.
Pharmacology consists of two words: “Pharmacon- which means drug” & “logy- which means to study something”. Hence, Pharmacology is defined as the science or study of drugs, their properties, their preparation, their uses, and their effects.
A drug is a substance obtained naturally or synthetically that is used to treat, diagnose and provide a therapeutic effect in an individual.

Pharmacology mainly has two divisions - Pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics.

Pharmacodynamics: The action of a drug on the body is known as pharmacodynamics. It has various physiological and biochemical actions of the drug at a specific site in the body.

Pharmacokinetics: “ kinetics means movement ” The response of the body towards the drug or the movement of a drug inside the body is known as pharmacokinetics. It includes-
A- Absorption
D- Distribution
M- Metabolism
E- Excretion

Historical Landmarks of Pharmacology
According to history, many scientists contributed to the concepts of pharmacology. Rudolf Buchheim (1820-1879) was the one who takes the first show on pharmacology as an experimental science in 1847 in Germany.

Later on, In the 19th-century Oswald Schmiedeberg (1838-1921) was named – “ The Father of Pharmacology”.
John Jacob Abel(1857-1938) –“Father of American Pharmacology”.
Colonel Ram Nath Chopra (1882-1973) -“Father of Indian Pharmacology”.
Loise Lasagna (1923-2003) – “Father of Clinical Pharmacology”.

In 1805, Friedrich Serturner discovered morphine (opioid derivative) which has pharmacological activities s.a:- analgesic (used to treat moderate to severe pain). The main cause morphine is not used preferably is due to it can cause drug addiction.

Progressively with the passage of time various more drugs are introduced by the scientists which shows specific pharmacological effects. Some of them are-

Grieger & Hessie (1833) - Atropine
Vogt (1907) - Histamine
P. Gleno(1908)- Sulfanilamide
Abel (1919) - Oxytoxin
Banting & Best (1922) - Insulin
A.Flemming (1928) - Penicillins
Domagk (1932) - Sulfonamides
Edward C. Kendall - Cortisone
Waksman (1944) - Streptomycin
Bartz (1948) - Chloramphenicol
Duggar (1948) - Tetracycline
Cade (1950) - Lithium

Although there are so many other landmarks in the history of pharmacology that are not listed above.

Scope of Pharmacology
Nowadays, The term Pharmacology has been expanded and subdivided into various terms. These subdivisions are-
Pathophysiology: The science or the study of disease/disorder is defined as pathophysiology.

Pharmacodynamics: That branch of pharmacology that considers the mode of action, and the effects of medicines.

Pharmacokinetic Profile:
D- Distribution
M- Metabolism
E- Excretion

Clinical Pharmacology: Study of drugs which includes both pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetic parameters that are-(uses, contraindication, adverse effects etc).

Pharmacotherapeutics: The use of drugs to treat the disease and to produce a therapeutic effect inside the body.

Toxicology: It consists of two words- Toxin-which means poison & Logy- means to study. Hence, The branch of pharmacology that deals with the nature and effects and the treatment of poisons. Toxicology is one of the most important subdivisions of pharmacology as it is directly related to poisons and the other type of effects that are not desirable for us.

Pharmacovigilance: The study of outcomes after the drug intake through case study and eradicate the problems.

Pre-Clinical Trials: These trials are performed on the animals to study the effects of the drug, by keeping the animal under regular observation.

Clinical Trials: These trials are performed on the volunteer humans.

These trials are performed when the results of the pre-clinical trial are satisfactory. The phases of clinical trials are-
Phase 1- 12-24 participants
Phase 2- less than 100 participants
Phase 3- more than 100 participants
Phase 4- thousands of participants

Pharmacogenomics: The branch of genetics that studies the genetically determined variations in responses to drugs in humans or laboratory organisms.

New Drug Development or Drug Discovery: The development of a new drug molecule is a toilsome, time-consuming, and very expensive process. There are various tiers in New Drug Development.

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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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