PHARMACY AND TOXICOLOGY
As you advance in rate, you will become more and
more involved in the administration of medicines.
Although drugs and their dosages are prescribed by
medical officers and other authorized prescribers, you,
as the Hospital Corpsman, are involved in their
administration. It is necessary for you to learn drug
sources, composition, methods of preparation and
administration, and physiologic and toxicologic
action. This chapter covers pharmacology, toxicology,
medication calculations, pharmaceutical preparations,
s u b s c i e n c e s o f p h a r m a c o l o g y, d r u g
standards, medication administration
methods, and factors that affect dosage.
Pharmacology is the science that deals with the
origin, nature, chemistry, effects, and uses of drugs.
The subsciences of pharmacology and their specific
areas of concentration are as follows:
PHARMACOGNOSYthe branch of
pharmacology that deals with biological,
biochemical, and economic features of natural
drugs and their constituents.
PHARMACYthe branch of pharmacology
that deals with the preparation, dispensing, and
proper use of drugs.
POSOLOGYthe science of dosages.
PHARMACODYNAMICSthe study of drug
action on living organisms.
of the uses of drugs in the treatment of disease.
TOXICOLOGYthe study of poisons, their
actions, their detection, and the treatment of the
conditions produced by them.
The science of treating disease by any method that
will relieve pain, cure disease, or prolong life is called
therapeutics. Therapeutics does not deal solely with
giving or taking medicine. This field also includes
many other methods, such as radiological treatment,
diathermy, and hydrotherapy.
T h e t e x t s d e a l i n g w i t h p h a r m a c e u t i c a l
preparations include the United States Pharmacopeia
and National Formulary (USP-NF), which provides
standards for drugs of therapeutic usefulness and
pharmaceutical necessity. Inclusion of drugs into this
compendium is based on therapeutic effectiveness and
The USP-NF provides tests for drug
identity, quality, strength, and purity.
Drug Facts and Comparisons and the Physicians
Desk Reference (PDR) have multiple indexes of
commercially available drugs.
Both are used as
advertising outlets for various drug manufacturers. A
comprehensive description of each pharmaceutical
preparation (including composition, action and use,
administration and dosage, precautions and side
effects, dosage forms available, and the common
(generic) drug names) is provided in both publications.
These two publications are used as references for
in-depth information on pharmaceutical products by
healthcare providers and pharmacy personnel.
The Science and Practice of
Pharmacy is probably the most widely used
text/reference in American pharmacies. It contains all
areas relevant to the art/science of pharmacy. The
Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics (Goodman
and Gilman) is a textbook of pharmacology,
toxicology, and therapeutics. This work is known as
the blue bible of pharmacology.
The quantity and frequency of a drugs
administration to a patient depend on several factors,
as does the method of that medications administra-
tion. This section will cover some of the factors
affecting dosage calculations and methods of