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Pharmacology is the study of medicinal substances called pharmaceuticals. The field encompasses drug composition, drug properties, interactions, toxicology, and desirable effects that can be used in therapy of diseases.

Greek : pharmacon—drug, logos—science.

Medicinal drugs have to be approved by drug regulatory authorities such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This field is called regulatory affairs. The International Conference on Harmonisation works in the standardisation for this.

Pharmaceuticals may be provided in a number of different pharmacological forms. Probably the most familiar are pills, in tablet and capsule form.

There are various classification systems for medicinal products including the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System.

Classes of medicinal products

For the gastrointestinal tract or digestive system

antacid, reflux suppressant, antiflatulent, antidopaminergic, antispasmodic, proton pump inhibitor, H2 antagonists, cytoprotectant, prostaglandin analogue, laxative, antidiarrhoeal, bile acid sequestrants, opioid

For the cardiovascular system

ACE inhibitor, cardiac glycoside, phosphodiesterase inhibitor, nitrate, antianginal, antiarrhythmic, angiotensin receptor blocker, alpha blocker, beta-receptor blocker, calcium channel blocker, antihypertensive, diuretic, vasoconstrictor, vasodilator, peripheral activator, anticoagulant, heparin, antiplatelet drug, fibrinolytic, anti-hemophilic factor, haemostatic drugs, hypolipidaemic agent, statin.

For the central nervous system

hypnotic, anaesthetics, antipsychotic, antidepressant (including tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitor, lithium salt, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), anti-emetic, anticonvulsant and antiepileptic, anxiolytic, barbiturate, movement disorder drug, stimulant (including amphetamines), benzodiazepine, cyclopyrrolone, dopamine antagonist, antihistamine, cholinergic, anticholinergic, emetic, cannabinoids, 5-HT antagonist

For pain & consciousness (Anaesthetic drugs)

analgesics (includes acetaminophen, NSAIDs and opioids), local anesthetics, general anaesthetics, sedatives, migraine treatment drug

For musculo-skeletal disorders

NSAIDs, muscle relaxant, neuromuscular drug
anticholinesterase, COX-2 inhibitor

For the eye

anti-infective, topical antibiotic, astringent, NSAIDs, miotics, adrenergic neurone blocker, carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, ocular lubricant, mydriatic

For the ear, nose and oropharynx

sympathomimetic, antihistamine, anticholinergic, NSAIDs, steroid, antiseptic, local anesthetic, antifungal, cerumenolytic

For the respiratory system

bronchodilator, NSAIDs, anti-allergic, antitussive, mucolytic, decongestant
corticosteroid, beta-receptor antagonist, anticholinergic, steroid

For endocrine problems

androgen, antiandrogen, gonadotropin, corticosteroid, growth hormone, insulin, antidiabetic (sulfonylurea, biguanide/metformin, thiazolidinedione, insulin), thyroid hormones, antithyroid drugs, calcitonin, diphosponate, vasopressin analogues

For the reproductive system or urinary system

antifungal, alkalising agent, quinolones, antibiotic, cholinergic, anticholinergic, anticholinesterase, antispasmodic, 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, selective alpha-1 blocker

For contraception

contraceptive, oral contraceptives, spermicide, depot contraceptives

For obstetrics and gynaecology

NSAIDs, anticholinergic, haemostatic drug, antifibrinolytic, Hormone Replacement Therapy, bone regulator, beta-receptor agonist, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, LHRH
gamolenic acid, gonadotropin release inhibitor, progestogen, dopamine agonist, oestrogen, prostaglandin, gonadorelin, clomiphene, tamoxifen, Diethylstilbestrol

For the skin

emollient, anti-pruritic, antifungal, disinfectant, scabicide, pediculicide, tar products, vitamin A derivatives, vitamin D analogue, keratolytic, abrasive, systemic antibiotic, topical antibiotic, hormones, desloughing agent, exudate absorbant, fibrinolytic, proteolytic, sunscreen, antiperspirant

For infections and infestations

antibiotic, antifungal, antileprotic, antituberculous drug, antimalarial, anthelmintic, amoebicide, antiviral, antiprotozoal

For immunology

vaccine, immunoglobulin, immunosuppressant, interferon, monoclonal antibody

For allergic disorders

anti-allergic, antihistamine, NSAIDs

For nutrition

tonic, iron preparation, electrolyte, parenteral nutritional supplement, vitamins, anti-obesity drug, anabolic drug, haematopoietic drug, food product drug

For neoplastic disorders

cytotoxic drug, sex hormones, aromatase inhibitor, somatostatin inhibitor, recombinant interleukins, G-CSF, erythropoietin

For diagnostics

contrast media

For euthanasia

A euthanaticum is used for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, see also Barbiturate#Other_non-therapeutical_use.

Drugs found to have serious side effects and subsequently withdrawn from the market

Thalidomide (1950s1960s)(Returned to market as an anti-neoplastic drug under FDA orphan drug rules), diethylstilbestrol (1970s), phenformin and buformin, Fen-phen(Popular combination of fenfluramine and phentermine, phentermine remains on the market and continues to be a popular diet aid, dexfenfluramine & fenfluramine (1997), troglitazone (2000), cerivastatin (2001), rapacuronium (ORG 9487)

See also