Pediatric pharmacology is the discipline that studies the effects of drugs on children. Pediatric pharmacologists ensure medications and drugs are safe for child consumption and they aim to reduce negative side effects and adverse drug reactions (ADRs) from children's medications. Pediatric pharmacologists are clinical pharmacologists who earn a doctorate of pharmacology (PharmD) or a pharmacology PhD, and possess additional training in pediatrics. Pediatric pharmacologists rarely provide direct patient care; instead, they may work in hospitals, academia, pharmaceutical companies, or regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ultimately, pediatric pharmacologists advance scientific and medical understanding of safe medication therapies for children.
In hospital or patient-facing roles, pediatric pharmacologists may develop custom medication regimens for children with severe illnesses. Pediatric pharmacologists can recommend alternative medications for children with allergies. In other areas, pediatric pharmacologists can conduct clinical trials to research new drugs and improve existing ones. Many pediatric pharmacologists are involved in the development of innovative medications for rare children's diseases and cancers. Clinical trials can reveal drug efficacy and potential adverse reactions. Pediatric pharmacologists may write reports on trial findings, assess pharmaceutical chemistry (drug formulations), and ultimately help decide if drugs should receive FDA approval for use in children's health care.
Pediatric pharmacologists are concerned with determining appropriate drug dosages, or how much drug should be consumed and how frequently. They must particularly consider dosages by children's physical maturity (age, size, and weight), as well as children's health. Other factors include how drugs should be taken, such as with food, and how multiple drugs interact together within the body. To accomplish this, pediatric pharmacologists study pediatric pharmacodynamics (the study of what drugs do to children's bodies) and pediatric pharmacokinetics (the study of how children's bodies process and absorb drugs), distribution (the rate and method in which drugs impact the body), and elimination (how drugs exit the body). Pediatric pharmacologists may also operate in other branches of pharmacology including:
Clinical pharmacologists work alongside statisticians, pediatricians, pediatric specialists, pediatric toxicologists, pharmaceutical chemists, geneticists, microbiologists, and pediatric pharmacists.