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Nature and Source of Drugs

Nature of drugs like their physical and chemical properties and source of drugs like natural, synthetic, microbial and other sources.
What is Drug?
The word DRUG educe from the French word “drogue” – which means “DRY HERB”. A drug is a substance that is obtained naturally or synthetically and used in medicine to treat, cure, diagnose and palliate from the disease.
Drugs may also be used for contraception, non-disease condition, or for the maintenance of optimum health.

Nature of Drugs
The nature of drugs depends on various factors such as physical properties, chemical properties , size, shape, etc.

1. Physical Properties: It reveals the state of the drug. Some of the examples are-
Solid- Aspirin, Paracetamol etc.
Liquid- nicotine, ethanol etc.
Gas- nitrous oxide.

2. Chemical Properties: Drugs can be organic or inorganic but the majority of the drugs are organic.
Inorganic Drugs- These are the drugs relating or belonging to the class of compounds not having a carbon basis.
For example ferrous sulfate, magnesium hydroxide etc.
Organic Drugs- These are the drugs relating or belonging to the class of chemical compounds having a carbon basis.
For example cocaine, penicillin, aspirin etc.
Organic drugs are further classified according to their behavior-
Weakly acidic- aspirin, penicillin
Weakly basic- morphine , chloroquine
Non- electrolytes- alcohol, diethyl-ether.

3. Drug Size: Most of the drugs come under the range of 100-1000 daltons.
· According to their size, drugs bind specifically to their binding site.
· Molecules less than 100D don't generally have their unparalleled features such as shape, size, configuration, chirality etc.
· Molecules having their MW of more than 1000D cannot readily diffuse within the cells/tissues of the body.
Few examples-

4. Drug Shape: Drug shape must be antonymous to the receptor site like that of lock & key so that they can bind easily and promote their actions accordingly. Most of the drugs show chirality.

Sources of the Drugs
The origin of drugs is versatile. It is obtained from many sources such as plants, animals, minerals, microbial, synthetic and biotechnologically.

A) Plant Source: It is the most plethoric source of drugs. Almost 90% of drugs are obtained from different parts of the plant. Drugs can be obtained from every part of the plant.
Leaf – digitalis, tulsi, tobacco, neem.
Flower- rose, vinca
Fruit- senna, opium
Root- rauwolfia serpentine, shatavari
Seeds- coffee beans
Bark- cinchona

B) Animal Source: Drugs originated from the different parts of the animals ( pancreas, stomach, liver, intestines etc.)
Pancreas of cow- insulin
Stomach of cow- pepsin
Sheep- thyroid
Cod liver oil
Blood- vaccine
Urine- hCG hormone
Bone- gelatin, calcium

C) Minerals: Drugs obtained from various minerals.
FeSO4- anemia
NaHCO3- antacid
MgSO4- purgative
Chlorine – disinfectant
Zinc- wound healing
Silver- immunity booster
Borax- antiseptic

D) Microbial Source: Drugs which we get from microbes.
Penicillium notatum- penicillin
Streptomycin- Streptomyces griseus
Neomycin – Streptomyces fradiae
Lactobacillus- lactic acid

E) Synthetic Source: Drugs which are not of natural origin; prepared or made artificially.
Bismuth iodide

F) Biotechnological Source: Drugs that are prepared by combining the principles of biology & technology that are through recombinant technology are called biotech drugs.
Insulin is prepared in labs through biotechnology for humans by altering the DNA of Escherechia Coli bacteria.
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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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