Pharmacology is the study of the interaction between a living organism and chemicals and how those chemicals affect body functions. In the study of pharmacology biologists study several different types of drugs including man-made, natural, and endogenous drugs. Any substance used to treat medical conditions is termed a pharmaceutical drug. Pharmacologists do experiments to research the molecular composition on drugs as well as the affects of drugs on body systems. Early pharmacology was devoted to the study of plants and naturally occurring substances that could be used medicinally to treat ailments.
There are two different main parts to pharmacology; pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. These two areas are closely related. Pharmacodynamics is the study of a drug on a body. Pharmacokinetics looks at how the drug is absorbed, metabolized, and moves through and out of the body.
Clinical pharmacology is a division of Pharmacology and dates back to the Middle Ages and showed great advances during the mid-19th century. During this time drugs like morphine and quinine were being studied and their effects on the body. In 1847, Rudolf Bucheim established the first pharmacology department. Today modern pharmacology uses genetics, chemistry and other sciences to create medications to combat disease, diagnosis, and preventative medical care.
There are also many other divisions of pharmacology. Some of these include which is the study of drugs on the nervous system. Psychopharmacology is the study of how drugs interact with the mind and behavior. Cardiovascular pharmacology deals with the effects of a drug on the heart and blood vessels. Pharmacogenomics is the study of drugs and their affect on genetics. A well-known branch of pharmacology is toxicology. Toxicology looks at the negative effects of a drug when taken both according to drug recommendations as well as in excess.
During the development phase of any drug, it is important that time is spent fully studying the medication and its chemical response to the body. During this time, it must be determined how safe the drug is for human consumption and the side effects of the drug. There are strict regulations for the process before FDA approval is given. In order for the FDA to approve a drug, there must be evidence to support that the drug does successfully treat the disease or symptoms that it has been created to treat and must prove to be safe based on human and animal studies. This process varies in time, but usually takes several years to meet all of the criteria for FDA approval.