Pharmacology is the science which deals with drugs and their effects on human body. It includes all other sciences such as medicine, pharmacy, biology etc.
Pharmacology is one of the most important sciences in the world because it affects every aspect of our lives. Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars to develop new medicines and medical devices. These medicines are used to treat diseases and illnesses.
In the United States alone, pharmaceutical companies spent $300 billion on research and development (R&D) in 2012. They develop new drugs, vaccines, and medical devices to improve human health and well-being.
The first real “drug” was developed as early as 10,000 B.C. Some people believe that wine, which contains low levels of opium, was used in ancient Egypt to perform minor surgeries.
Even the earliest human societies were aware of the mind-altering effects of drugs. The use of drugs was not always beneficial, however. In the ancient world, people used herbs and other plants for their psychoactive effects. Other drugs were used for medical or ritualistic purposes.
The word “drug” comes from the Latin word “droga” which means “to make numb.
The use of drugs became problematic in some cultures because certain drugs altered users’ mental states and changed the way they behaved.
In some ancient cultures, people did not distinguish between physical and spiritual health. They thought that illnesses were caused by the loss of harmony and balance.
Because drugs could change a person’s mood or behavior, some people believed they could also prevent or cure illnesses related to mental or spiritual balance.
All cultures have used drugs of one type or another. Some continue to do so today. Most, however, have adopted a “drug-free” policy.
Drugs are classified into five categories or “schedules” in the United States. The classification determines how a drug can be used and who can handle it.
For example, drugs that are highly addictive are classified as Schedule I and have very limited uses.
Most drugs, however, can be purchased at a local pharmacy. These include analgesics such as aspirin and Tylenol, which are readily available over the counter.
The pharmaceutical industry is a global business. It provides jobs in every country in the world. It is also one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.
Pharmaceutical companies employ highly-trained scientists and researchers to develop new drugs. They also employ marketing professionals to promote the sale of these drugs.
Other types of professionals, such as doctors, medical technicians, and nurses, are also vital to the pharmaceutical industry. The development of new drugs would not be possible without their input and support.
Because the industry is so large and so important to human health, politicians around the world are involved in its regulation and management.
Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for a number of scientific achievements.
1. Penicillin for Infections
In 1928, Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin while working in his laboratory at St. Mary’s Hospital in London.
He noticed that a contaminated Petri dish had become protected from bacteria. He identified the mold that had caused this effect and named it penicillium notatum.
Eventually, this mold led to the development of many antibiotics, including Ampicillin, Carbapenem, and Tetracycline.
2. Insulin for Diabetes
In 1921, Canadian scientists Fredrick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin and its ability to treat diabetes. Before this discovery, people who suffered from diabetes often went into comas and died because they were unable to control their blood sugar.
Today, insulin is available in several different forms, including injections and infusions. It is vital for the treatment of diabetes and is considered to be an essential medicine.
3. Vaccines for Deadly Diseases
In 1796, British physician Edward Jenner developed the vaccine for smallpox, which had killed millions of people. In 1840, English doctor Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine.
In 1954, Doctors Thomas Huckle Weller, John Enders, and Frederick Robbins developed a vaccine for polio. There are now vaccines available for many other diseases, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetnus, measles, mumps, chicken pox, and meningococcal.
4. Anesthesia for Surgery
Before 1846, all surgery was performed without the use of anesthesia. The patient had to depend on strong herbs and alcohol to dull the pain.
In 1846, American physician Crawford Long used ether for the first time during a surgery. In 1962, American dentist William Morton used the anesthetic ether for the first time in public.
Other common anesthetics include nitrous oxide, halothane, benzodiazepines, and propofol.
5. Insulin Pen for Diabetes
The first insulin pen was invented in the early 1980s by John Latham and Michael Allison. It became available in 1983 and revolutionized the treatment of diabetes.
One of the largest pharmaceutical companies is Roche, which was founded in 1896 by Alfred Bernhard Nobel. The company now has its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland and has facilities in over 60 countries.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was set up in 1930 to control the release of new medicines and to protect the public from harmful pharmaceutical drugs.
Some pharmaceutical drugs have negative side effects. For example, the pain killer Vioxx has been linked to heart attacks and strokes.
In 2004, it was taken off the market because of these side effects.
The FDA now requires that all drugs undergo clinical trials and other tests to make sure they are safe before they are released to the public.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Cannabinoid pharmacology. (WL Dewey – Pharmacological reviews, 1986 – ASPET)
- Fundamentals of experimental pharmacology (M Ghosh – Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 2007 – go.gale.com)
- Pharmacology of opioids. (WR Martin – Pharmacological Reviews, 1983 – ASPET)
- Neuroendocrine pharmacology of stress (GA Carrasco, LD Van de Kar – European journal of pharmacology, 2003 – Elsevier)
- Medical pharmacology (A Goth – 1974 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)