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A Pharmacologist is a Scientist

A Pharmacologist is a scientist, primarily occupied with research, although teaching medical students is often a part of the job description. A Pharmacologist works or has experience working in a laboratory performing research.

The Food and Drug Administration (Fda) employs a small army of Pharmacologists to evaluate data used to support IND or NDAs for drugs on their way to being marketed. Pharmaceutical companies' research and development divisions employ numerous pharmacologists, both non-clinical and clinical, both to conduct research prior to approval of a drug and afterwards, to monitor safety and discover/develop new applications.

A Pharmacologist is accustomed to determining questions of causation involving medications and illicit drugs, in the same manner that a Physican is the expert in differential diagnosis of diseases.

A Pharmacologist does not work with tablets, pills, or directly fulfilling consumer/patient needs. A Pharmacologist is not qualified to advise patients concerning the medications they use (although a Pharmacologist may have good suggestions what patients should discuss with those responsible for their healthcare).

may serve as Expert Witness
in certain types of litigation,
testifying concerning the mechanism of action of drugs, causation of some adverse reactions or side effects of drugs, or the presence and effects of illicit drugs.

A Pharmacologist is not a Healthcare Professional.

A Pharmacist is a Healthcare Professional

A Pharmacist is a Healthcare Professional whose mission it is to accurately and safely deliver Drugs (especially Prescription Drugs) to patients. Identity and Identification of Drugs, Doses, and Drug Interactions are all within the Pharmacist's domain.

The Pharmacists most familiar to the public work in drug stores and fill prescriptions. Pharmacists also work in hospitals where they will formulate medications including solutions for intravenous delivery. Pharmacists are heavily involved in policy development for government agencies and insurance companies.

Accurate record-keeping complying with HIPAA requrements for confidentiality is another component of the Pharmacist's job description.

What is the difference between a Pharmacologist and a Pharmacist?

The training of a Pharmacist shares much in common with a Pharmacologist. Dose-response and mechanism of action of drugs are important to both pursuits. The major difference involves laboratory experience: Pharmacists typically do not spend the majority of their post-graduate training in the laboratory, nor in their postdoctoral training nor in their employment. Thus experimental design and interpretation of data and peer-reviewed publication are more in the domain of the Pharmacologist. Indeed, Pharmacologists would lay claim to writing such references as the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR) which is followed by Physicians and Pharmacists. Notably, a Pharmacist holding a doctorate (D. Pharm.) is often indistinguishable from a Pharmacologist.

Toxicologists, a closely related species

Toxicology is frequently called "overdose pharmacology", a glib definition that is only partially correct. Insofar as Toxicologists deal with drugs, they are primarily concerned with the toxic effects of drugs. But many of the toxic effects of drugs occur at doses which are not overdoses (i.e., in the therapeutic range). Moreover, toxicology is concerned also with toxic effects of substances besides drugs: gases (like carbon monoxide), metals (like lead), solvents (like benzene), and particles (like nanoparticles). Nonetheless, much of toxicology is considered a subset of pharmacology because the basic science of pharmacology is used for toxicology. Thus the field of toxicokinetics is based on pharmacokinetics; the dose-response relationships for toxic actions obey similar laws as for thereapeutic actions.

Toxicologists also may serve as Expert Witnesses in legal matters testifying as to the side effects and adverse reactions to drugs.


Interactions between Pharmacologists and other Scientists / Healthcare Professionals

Pharmacologists and Pharmacists rarely encounter one another professionally. In the context of a pharmaceutical company, pharmacologists are intensively involved in drug discovery and validation of therapeutic actions of drugs. The safety evaluation of those drugs is in the realm of the Toxicologist. Toxicology may be in the Research Dept or the Development Dept. Pharmacologist and Toxicologists are more heavily involved prior to clinical trials, but their participation generally endures throughout the lifetime of the drug.

Other than as part of their training, Physicians typically do not interact with Pharmacologists. Physicians often regard themselves as qualified to fulfill the role of Pharmacologist, which may or may not be justified. Of course, the major interaction between Pharmacists and Physicians is the former filling prescriptions written by the latter.

Pharmacologist Expert Witness

In forensic context, the Physician is usually the essential Expert Witness to testify concerning specific causation. Expert Witness Pharmacologists may be called upon to testify concerning general causation or simply to supply a higher level of qualification, greater expertise and insight, than Physicians typical offer. Often the Pharmacologist is hired as consultant rather than Expert Witness, supply a report from which attorneys and Physicians may work. An Expert Witness Pharmacologist is available at Pharmikos.

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What is a Pharmacologist? What is a Pharmacist? What is the difference between a Pharmacologist and a Pharmacist? What is a Toxicologist?