Clinical pharmacology is the study of the relationship between humans and drugs, especially how the latter can produce an effect on normal bodily functions.
Clinical pharmacology is relevant to many aspects of how we use medications in the modern world. Clinical pharmacology helps us understand dose adjustment, medication absorption, and frequency of doses, among others.
Clinical pharmacology uses relevant tools to improve the use of medications, including Population Pharmacokinetics, Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetics, and Quantitative Systems Pharmacology.
What is Clinical Pharmacology? – Introduction
The world where we live has become a very diverse place. Humans are trying hard to climb the steps of the seemingly impossible every day. These successes have made many unbelievable and complex things approachable and doable. The credit for all this goes to no one other than the devoted efforts of all those responsible for doing all the research work behind the scenes.
One such field that has gained remarkable success and progress is the field of medicine and pharmacology. It is due to the unmatched success in this field that we now have several life-saving drugs and treatment regimens at hand that could help save the lives of millions of people.
Under the care of the right physician and pharmacologist, patients can make the most of the benefits of such drugs that give them hope for life and health.
However, to make the most of these drugs and medicines, it is best if one studies clinical pharmacology and knows about this field at the tips of their hands.
Continue reading to understand what is clinical pharmacology and its impact on how we use medications in the modern world.
Clinical Pharmacology – An Overview
As the name might suggest, this branch of pharmacology deals with two main subjects – drugs and humans. Simply put, clinical pharmacology is that branch of pharmacology that deals with the interaction between humans and drugs. (1)
It deals with the way drugs act and imposes their due effects on the human body and, in return, how the drugs affect the human body in ways other than the ones expected.
Clinical pharmacology and its widespread extent could help us explore why certain drugs affect individuals differently and, even more, why certain side effects occur only in a selected few patients, leaving the others free from them.
Using the application of clinical pharmacology in practical life, it could become very easy for pharmacists and physicians to collaborate and work together on the principles of bringing forth such medications that are not only effective in terms of their mechanism of action but are also a great help when it comes to minimizing reactions and side effects for a better and greater quality of life. (2)
How Does Clinical Pharmacology Help Us?
If we talk about this topic from a common man’s perspective, then the answer is going to be pretty straightforward. Clinical pharmacology helps us in coming across such drugs that are safe and effective to be used. It helps us in approaching or getting prescribed only those drugs that both our pharmacists and physicians know would do nothing but impart benefits for the prevalence of our health and better quality of life.
However, if we talk on a specific level, then the impact of clinical pharmacology goes further beyond just the prescription of the right medications.
Therefore, to understand more about its role in a better and coordinated manner and to see how it could help bring a positive change in this entire field in the days to come, let us have a brief overview regarding the role of clinical pharmacology in the practical field:
1. Adjusting Doses:
Clinical pharmacology helps with adjusting appropriate doses for the appropriate people. Be it age, any comorbid or existing illnesses, or a history of drug reactions with other drugs, all these factors greatly contribute to altering the mechanism of action of any particular drug.
However, with the application and knowledge of clinical pharmacology, pharmacists and researchers have been able to design such drugs that could have minimal possible side effects on these patients, provided that their doses are adjusted according to the factors that cause problems in the first place.
2. Better Absorption Of Drugs:
There are many drugs that work better when taken on an empty stomach, and then there are some other drugs that work better when taken on a full stomach.
The reason behind these contradicting mechanisms of action is the fact that the absorption of the drug greatly depends upon whether the drug is allowed to expose itself to the body in its full glory or under cover of some other interfering substance, food in this case.
However, thanks to the principles of clinical pharmacology, pharmacists can now evaluate these factors in a better and more calculated way regarding the absorption of these drugs so that they could be prescribed accordingly to the patients.
3. Calculating The Dosing Schedules:
It is a common practice that almost all drugs are prescribed in a calculated manner to all individuals. This ‘calculated manner’ varies from person to person and while doing so, some patients are advised to take a particular drug twice a day, while some other person may be prescribed to take the same drug either once or thrice during the day.
The factors that determine the dosages highly depend on the body weight and the extent of the severity of the condition that the patient is suffering from.
For that reason, it becomes necessary to adjust the dosing schedules accordingly so that the drug gets the optimal time to exert its impact maximally on the person. And this again, could be attributed to the usage of clinical pharmacology for helping experts determine the pharmacokinetics and safety profile of a given drug.
4. The Tools Of Clinical Pharmacology
With so many benefits in store for humanity, it is not difficult to guess that there must be some sort of driving force behind all this that makes it possible for pharmacists and experts to determine the impossibility of all factors when it comes to prescribing the perfect drugs for a given patient.
Given below is a list of all those working models whose very usage makes it possible for phyisicans and pharmacists to determine the ideal drug for a patient in every case:
Population Pharmacokinetics (popPK)
This variable helps to determine the effects of variation in drug concentrations in a target group of the population. This means that the question of how a drug affects different individuals differently could be understood better through the application of popPK. (3)
Translational Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) Modeling
This model helps understand the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and the relationship that interconnects these relations together.
Quantitative Systems Pharmacology (QSP)
This modality helps design treatment regimens and the appropriate therapies for different diseases in a calculated manner. (4)
Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetics (PBPK)
This model uses the tissue flow of organs along with the composition of blood to determine the pharmacokinetics of a given drug.
Working together, all these models ensure that a very appropriate yet effective drug is devised and then prescribed to the patient suffering from a particular disease. (5)
In conclusion, clinical pharmacology is indeed an essential part when it comes to prescribing drugs effectively and appropriately. It does not only help with the correct prescription of drugs but also ensures that all factors have been decided and taken care of before prescribing the drug.
1. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics: Past, Present and Future – PMC [Internet]. [cited 2023 May 7]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312263/
2. Alsultan A, Alghamdi WA, Alghamdi J, Alharbi AF, Aljutayli A, Albassam A, et al. Clinical pharmacology applications in clinical drug development and clinical care: A focus on Saudi Arabia. Saudi Pharm J SPJ. 2020 Oct;28(10):1217–27. Clinical pharmacology applications in clinical drug development and clinical care: A focus on Saudi Arabia – PubMed (nih.gov)
3. Basic Concepts in Population Modeling, Simulation, and Model-Based Drug Development—Part 2: Introduction to Pharmacokinetic Modeling Methods – PMC [Internet]. [cited 2023 May 7]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3636497/
4. Quantitative Systems Pharmacology: An Exemplar Model‐Building Workflow With Applications in Cardiovascular, Metabolic, and Oncology Drug Development – PMC [Internet]. [cited 2023 May 7]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6617832/
5. Rawlins MD. Clinical pharmacology in health care, teaching and research. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 May;75(5):1219–20. Clinical pharmacology in health care, teaching and research – PubMed (nih.gov)
Andleeb Asghar holds a “Pharm-D” degree from Lahore College for Women University, Lahore. She has also served as a distinguished guest speaker at various local hospitals and high-profile organizations. She has been writing medical and health-related content for the past five years.