Clinical pharmacology is the study of the effects of drugs on humans. Clinical pharmacologists use clinical drug trials and pharmacological research to determine if medications are safe and appropriate for human use. They examine methods to optimize medications while minimizing side effects and adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Clinical pharmacologists are doctors, pharmacists, and/or scientists with additional training in clinical pharmacology. They may work in clinical, office, and laboratory environments.
In clinical settings, clinical pharmacologists work directly with patients to observe the results of a drug therapy. In a laboratory, they may investigate a drug's interaction with the human body. They study drug metabolism, or how the body metabolizes chemicals, and analyze biomarkers, which are measurable signs of processes in the human body. In the office environment, clinical pharmacologists may participate in academia and research, such as publishing scientific literature and advising the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on possible drug regulation.
Clinical pharmacologists play a critical role in the study and assessment of drug therapies. During drug development, clinical pharmacologists can collaborate with pharmaceutical industry sponsors and FDA officials to help design and conduct clinical human trials. Clinical pharmacologists may participate in clinical protocols, which are plans for a clinical study that dictate how and why the study will be performed. Clinical drug trials are typically split into three or four different phases, with each subsequent phase increasing the number of study participants. New drug therapies may be tested against a placebo or an existing treatment. Trial results may reveal insight into a drug's therapeutic efficacy (ability to treat a condition) and provide data for clinical pharmacologists to interpret.
Clinical pharmacology has a broad range of applications, and clinical pharmacologists may perform work involving the following branches of pharmacology, including:
Clinical pharmacologists work alongside statisticians, pharmacokineticists, epidemiologists, clinical toxicologists, pharmaceutical chemists, geneticists, and microbiologists, and clinical pharmacists, among many others.