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The pharmaceutical sciences are a group of interdisciplinary areas of study concerned with the design, action, delivery, and disposition of drugs. They apply knowledge from chemistry (inorganic, physical, biochemical and analytical), biology (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular biology), epidemiology, statistics, chemometrics, mathematics, physics, and chemical engineering.
The pharmaceutical sciences are further subdivided into several specific specialties, with four main branches:
- Pharmacology: the study of the biochemical and physiological effects of drugs on human beings.
- Pharmacodynamics: the study of the cellular and molecular interactions of drugs with their receptors. Simply "What the drug does to the body"
- Pharmacokinetics: the study of the factors that control the concentration of drug at various sites in the body. Simply "What the body does to the drug"
- Pharmaceutical toxicology: the study of the harmful or toxic effects of drugs.
- Pharmacogenomics: the study of the inheritance of characteristic patterns of interaction between drugs and organisms.
- Pharmaceutical chemistry: the study of drug design to optimize pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and synthesis of new drug molecules (Medicinal Chemistry).
- Pharmaceutics: the study and design of drug formulation for optimum delivery, stability, pharmacokinetics, and patient acceptance.
- Pharmacognosy: the study of medicines derived from natural sources.
As new discoveries advance and extend the pharmaceutical sciences, subspecialties continue to be added to this list. Importantly, as knowledge advances, boundaries between these specialty areas of pharmaceutical sciences are beginning to blur. Many fundamental concepts are common to all pharmaceutical sciences. These shared fundamental concepts further the understanding of their applicability to all aspects of pharmaceutical research and drug therapy.