6 Sub Branches of Pharmacy – History – Studies – Applications – Outlines

The term of Pharmacy comes from word farmakon in Greek that means poison or medicine. Pharmacy is one of health professionals division that is combined of health science and chemical science, who is responsible to assure the effective and safe use of pharmaceutical drugs. The scopes of pharmaceutical practice are includes traditional pharmaceutical practice such as compounding and dispensing of drug forms, also modern pharmaceutical practice that are related to patient care in health care, efficacy and safety evaluation of drug usage, and the provision of drug information.

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Brief History of Pharmacy

In the era of Hippocrates who’s called ”the father of medical science” in 460 BC to 370 BC, the science of pharmacy has not been known widely . At that time there were only doctors that have the obligation to diagnose the illness suffered by the patient as well as to prepare the herb or the medicine for the patient.

As time pass by, treatment had begun to be more complex and there were many drugs that must be prepared with complicated preparation. Therefore, in 1240 BC, the Germany King named King Frederick took the initiative to distinguish medicine with the science of pharmacy. With the existence of pharmaceutical science, it was expected that the making and compounding of drugs would be better for improving the quality of life of patients.

In those days, the pharmacy practice was the traditional pharmacy practice associated with compounding and the provision of medicinal preparations. In contrast to the present day where many modern pharmaceutical practices are conducted and related to patient oriented service such as clinical services, evaluation of the efficacy and safety of drug use, and provision of drug information. And since 1400 – 1600s, the word “Farma” (pharma) began to be widely used.

The following list is some of the famous figures that play a role in the development of pharmaceutical science:

  1. Paracelsus (1541-1493 BC): He argues that to make a medicine preparation it is necessary to know the content of the active ingredient and he made a drug from a substance that had been known already its active substance.
  2. Hippocrates (459-370 BC): He is known as “Father of Medicine” and in his medical practice had used more than 200 species of plants.
  3. Claudius Galen (200-129 BC): He connected the healing of the disease with the working theory of medicine which is the field of pharmacology.
  4. Ibnu Sina (980 – 1037 BC): He wrote several books on methods of collecting and storing medicinal plants and medicines making process such as pills, suppositories, syrups, and combining medical knowledge from several countries to produce better treatment.
  5. Johann Jakob Wepfer (1620-1695): He successfully verified the effects of pharmacology and toxicology in experiment on animals. His animal experiments have been the origin of preclinical testing which until now is a requirement before the drug is tested clinically in humans.

Over time, pharmaceutical science continues to spread throughout the world. The traditional healers and traditional medicine that initially only developed in Greece, Middle East, small Asia, China, and other Asian regions began to spread to many countries that adopted this “medical science”. Until finally pharmaceutical science began to be known in America and marked by the establishment of the first Pharmacy College in the world this was in Philadelphia, USA in 1821. And after that, many pharmacy college and faculty began to be established around the world.

Along with the increasing spread of pharmaceutical science, pharmaceutical science itself also experienced many developments. And until now the pharmacy branches of science can be divided into five primary disciplines, there are:

  1. Pharmaceutics
  2. Medicinal Chemistry
  3. Pharmacognosy
  4. Pharmacy Practice
  5. Pharmacology

Each branches of pharmacy has a different field in practices; therefore we will discuss it one by one as follows. Also read: Branches of Organic Chemistry

1. Pharmaceutics

Pharmaceutics is a pharmaceutical discipline that studies the process of a new chemical compound into a drug that can be used effectively and safely by the patient. Not only to change the new chemical can compounds, in pharmaceutics we also develop old drugs into drugs with new dosage forms.

In pharmaceutical science it is known that many chemical compounds have pharmacological properties or it means that it can cause a therapeutic effect for patients. However, these chemical compounds require special treatment in order to reach the target organ in the body and cause therapeutic effects at a certain dose. Through pharmaceutics, pharmacists can continue to develop drug formulations, how drugs are delivered and disposed in the human body. In the other words, pharmaceutics is a study that is related to the formulation of pure compounds to produce a finished drug product.

In pharmaceutics, there are also several science branches, there are:

  • Pharmaceutical Formulation

Pharmaceutical formulation in pharmaceutics is a process in which a chemical compound is assembled and developed in conjunction with another drug-making agent to become a final drug product. The word formulation is also often used in the explanation of the dosage form of the drug. The dosage form is the finished form of a drug, such as capsules, tablets, creams, pills, syrups, and others. In pharmaceutical formulation, the pharmacist will assemble an active compound to become the desired dosage form according to the physical properties and the intended use of the drug.

  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

Pharmaceutical manufacturing, or also often referred as drug manufacturing, is the process of making drugs from raw materials until become the finished products in industrial scale. In the pharmaceutical industry, all existing processes must be carried out in accordance with the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP).

Starting from the raw material reception, weighing process, manufacturing process, packaging, until the storage of the final product must be done in accordance with the standards of cGMP. This needs to be done because pharmaceutical companies want to make sure that the final drug product is completely safe and effective for all patients.

  • Dispensing Pharmacy

Dispensing pharmacy is an activity where the pharmacist will perform several steps to translate a medication request (prescription) into a safe and appropriate individualized medication supply for the patient. In practice, these dispensing activities are usually carried out in community services such as in health care, hospitals, and pharmacies.

At the time of dispensing, firstly the pharmacist will dig up some information from the patient regarding his treatment. This is necessary to ensure that the treatment prescribed by the doctor is appropriate for the patient. After that, the medicine will be prepared according to the prescription. And at the end of it, the pharmacist will hand over the medicine to patients accompanied by counseling about the treatment. This whole activity is then called dispensing pharmacy.

Pharmaceutical Technology

In drug development, technology is important and cannot be missed. An active compound that has been discovered will be converted into a drug preparation using a capable technology so the final product has a great quality. The first technology needed is technology process that is a technology to produce an active compound with good quality and in large quantity.

The second technology is technology formulation that is a technology of drug manufacturing preparation from raw material until the final product with an optimal result. And the latest technology is the analytical and quality evaluation technology that is used to ensure that the final drug product still has a great quality until it is used by patient.

  • Physical Pharmacy

Physical pharmacy is the basic principle for a pharmacist to be able to do all of the pharmaceutics activity. In physical pharmacy, pharmacist will know the process of applying physics and chemistry to the study of pharmaceutics. When designing and developing drug or drug products, pharmacist needs to know the basic physical and chemical properties of a substance. Therefore, through the physical pharmacy theory and practice a pharmacist will know better how to develop a drug product.

Also read: Applications of Biochemistry – Animal Biochemistry

2. Medicinal Chemistry

In Pharmacy, medicinal chemistry has a essential role for new drug development. Medicinal chemistry is a discipline with a combination of chemistry, especially synthetic organic chemistry, pharmacology, and various other biological specialties.

These combinations will be a basic principle for design, chemical synthesis, and development for market of pharmaceutical agents or drug that will be developed further for a new drug product. In other words, medicinal chemistry is a multi-discipline of knowledge that involved in potential drug synthesis which is followed with the assessment of the interaction between drug and organ target to understand the effect, metabolism, and side effect of drug.

Discovery of a new drug substance start with an identification. The identification may be performed in natural product, bacteria, fungi, and the other. At the stage of identification, the pharmacist will focus on small organic molecules that have a pharmaceutical effect.

They will conduct some experiments to know the effect of the substance, and if the substances have a significant effect the pharmacist will synthesize it. If the substance has already developed before then the pharmacist will perform a further study. They will observe the probability of this substance for having another effect if it is altered synthetically.

Through some chemical reaction, the old drug substance will be transformed into a new drug substance with a better effect or even e new effect. The basic science of medicinal chemistry is organic chemistry because most of the drug substances are the organic compounds. Therefore, a pharmacist has to have a strong basic in organic chemistry in order to discovery a new drug substance.

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3. Pharmacognosy

Pharmacy is not always about synthetic drug. In pharmacy we also will know about medicinal drug. And to understand more about the medicinal drug, there is a branch science of pharmacy called Pharmacognosy. Pharmacognosy is the study of medicinal drugs derived from plants or other natural sources.

Through pharmacognocy, a pharmacist will be taught about the physical, chemical, biochemical, and biological properties of drugs, drugs substances or potential drug substance of natural origin. Not only that, with pharmacognosy the pharmacist will also be able to discover the new drugs from natural sources.

Pharmacognosy is very important in pharmacy because the drug development is progressing nowadays, and the need of new drug for new disease is also increasing. All plants in the world are known to produce chemical compound or called phytochemicals as their metabolic activity result. And these chemical compounds have a great potential as the new source for new medicine.

For example a phytochemical called alkaloid. Alkaloid is a chemical compound that may be found in a lot of plants. This containing nitrogen ring compound can be purified from crude extracts by acid-base extraction. The alkaloid that is derived from coca plant (Erythroxylon coca) is known to have effect as a local anesthetic. The other wide known alkaloid is quinine from Qina plant that is useful for animalarial drug.

Also read: Branches of Analytical Chemistry – Applications of Analytical Chemistry

4. Pharmacy Practice

This branch of science is more focus on the pharmacy practice in community and hospital. Pharmacy practice is also divided into some areas, there are:

  • Clinical Interventions

Clinical intervention is often used in pharmacy practice in hospital. Literally, clinical intervention is an intervention made by a pharmacist for the prescribed drug that has some problem. In hospital there is always be a pharmacist who monitor every prescription made by doctor. But sometimes, the doctor will make a little mistake and the pharmacists should notify the doctor to correct the mistake.

In general practice, the pharmacists will have to refuse to dispense a drug if the prescribed drug cannot be dispensed. The pharmacists should recommend another drug to the doctor so the wrong drug will be changed. Another example is for a child patient, drug dosage need to be adjusted. Sometimes doctor does not notice that it needs a dosage adjustment. Therefore, the pharmacist should notify the doctor to prescribe the wrong dosage for the patient.

  • Pharmaceutical Care

Pharmaceutical care is the direct or indirect responsible of drug therapy for the purpose of achieving the elimination or reduction of a patient’s symptom of disease. It is a responsibility for a pharmacist to provide pharmaceutical care. It may be a direct action like a provision of medication-related care for the purpose of improving a patient’s quality of life.

  • Communication Skills

Pharmacists need to interact with many people with different background. They will interact with patient, doctor, nurse, the other health profession, or even the other pharmacist to discuss about a treatment. In order to have a good discussion, the pharmacist is demanded to have a good communication skills. To improve this skill, the pharmacists have to exercise in role plays that reflect the real condition. If there is some misunderstanding or problem in field, they must to be able to communicate it slowly with the related party and be able to solve it together in a team.

  • Patient Care

Pharmacists must remember that they have to be patient oriented. They must focus on improving patient’s quality of life. Some patients need a special care, such as pediatric or geriatric. Pharmacists must care about them in order to improve their compliance in taking medicine. Sometimes, pharmacists even have to do the home care for the needed patients.

  • Drug Related Problems

Drug related problem is a study to understand the problems that resulted from treatment. Every human has a different metabolism system of their bodies; therefore sometimes drug will have a different effect in certain people. In order to prevent the bad effect, pharmacist should always take a notice of any deviation. The example of drug related problems are: overdose or under-dose drug, adverse effect to a specific drug, drug-drug interaction, drug-food interaction, patient’s compliance, wrong medication, and many more.

5. Pharmacology

The last branches of pharmacy is pharmacology. Pharmacology is an essential science in pharmacy. However, pharmacology is not really specific to pharmacy. Pharmacology is a branch of biology that focuses on research of drug action.

In general, pharmacology can be interpreted by the interaction that occurs between living organisms and chemical compounds that can give effect to normal or abnormal biochemical functions. And if the chemical compound has medicinal properties, then the compound can provide a therapeutic effect.

In pharmacology we also learn about how the drug is delivered in the body and may result in either therapeutic or adverse effects. And through the point of view of pharmacologists the effect can be described as Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics. Pharmacokinetics explains how the body’s effects on chemical compounds (for example half-life and volume distribution of drug that may differ in different people). While pharmacodynamics explain how the effects caused by chemical compounds to the body (as an example of therapeutic effects or toxic effects).

Pharmacology is also divided into several sub-discipline such as: clinical pharmacology, neuropharmacology, psychoparmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, pharmacogenetics. pharmacogenomics, pharmacoepidemiology, pharmacology systems, toxicology, theoretical pharmacology, posology, pharmacognosy, environmental pharmacology and dental pharmacology.

Pharmacy students who study pharmacology must have a biomedical science basic that studies about the effects of drugs on living organisms. On this basis, it is hoped that new drug discoveries will emerge and it is hoped that they can have a better understanding of how the human body works.

There are the explanations about the development of pharmaceutical science and the branch of sciences that exist in pharmacy. After reading this article, we know that pharmaceutical science consists of many very wide sciences, there are six branches of pharmacy in chemistry fields.. But keep in mind that every science is related to each other and cannot be separated. Any existing science can also be used simultaneously with the aim of improving the quality of life of the patient.

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