Basic Pharmacological Terminology

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  • 0:01 Basic Terminology
  • 0:25 Pharmacologist vs. Pharmacist
  • 1:39 Prescription vs. OTC
  • 2:25 Generic vs. Brand Name
  • 3:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

You can't understand tougher pharmacological terminology unless you know the basic words in this sphere! This lesson defines pharmacology, pharmacologist, pharmacist, generic vs. brand name, and prescription vs. OTC.

Learning the Basics

If you want to learn about any topic, you have to know the very basic terminology behind it, or else you're kind of going to get lost. I mean, if you're into cars, you need to know what an engine is, what a mechanic does, and all that good stuff at least at the very basic level. Right? So, let's learn about the really basic, but nonetheless important, terminology behind pharmacology.

Pharmacologist vs. Pharmacist

When it comes to cars, there is more than one professional that deals with them. There are mechanics who fix things and restorers who bring old cars back to life. The world of pharmacology also has more than one kind of professional dealing with the same general scope of things.

They are pharmacologists and pharmacists. A pharmacologist is an individual who specializes in pharmacology, the science and study of the origin, nature, and uses of drugs. 'Pharmac-' refers to a drug or medication and '-ology' means 'the study of' something.

The person behind the counter at your local Wal-A-Drug is unlikely to be a pharmacologist. Pharmacologists typically work in universities, labs, or corporations developing, testing, or otherwise studying drugs.

The person behind the Wal-A-Drug counter is a pharmacist, a professional that is licensed to prepare, compound, and dispense drugs as well as educate clinical professionals and patients about such drugs. When I say they compound drugs, that's just a fancy word for the mixing of drugs or drugs and other substances, to reach a desired effect for a patient. It's akin to ordering a completely customized auto part that's unique to your specific vehicle's needs.

Prescription vs. OTC

While a pharmacist will be more than happy to assist you in understanding an OTC, over-the-counter, drug, they mainly deal with prescription medication. A prescription is a legal directive from a licensed medical professional for the compounding, dispensing, or administration of drugs for a patient.

Basically, if you have to go to a doctor and he or she gives you a slip of prescription paper or tells you they'll call in a prescription to a local pharmacy, you're getting a prescription drug. It's like a special-order part in the auto world, but not necessarily unique only to your needs like a compounded drug.

On the flipside, if you just waltz right into Wal-A-Drug and pick some drug up off of the shelf, then that's an over-the-counter medication. That's like any old regular auto part you can find at the local store.

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