Clinical pharmacologists study how drugs affect people and help pharmaceutical companies design more effective and safer medicines. This may involve performing studies on animals that were given the drug to determine how their organs were affected by the drug’s chemicals. One of the other critical jobs in pharmacology involves performing statistical research on a computer, analyzing the results of hundreds or thousands of patient drug interactions to look for trends that suggest the drug is working, the dosage needs to be modified, or people with certain health conditions should avoid the drug. Pharmacologists also study non-drug comestibles, such as food colorings, additives and flavorings to ensure they are safe for people to ingest.
Some pharmacologists focus exclusively on animal medicines. This is a huge industry as people are willing to spend money to assist their (generally uninsured) pets and farmers, racehorse owners and animal trainers want to keep their livestock or thoroughbreds healthy and active. In fact, most of the antibiotics produced in the country go to livestock rather than humans.
Neuropharmacologists and psychopharmacologists study how drugs affect human behavior, the brain and the rest of the human nervous system.
A toxicology pharmacologist (or toxicologist) looks at non-food substances that adversely affect human health, such as hazardous chemicals used for industrial applications or household products. Cosmetics firms also employ pharmacologists to ensure their products do not harm the wearers when inadvertently ingested, or through skin contact.
Doctors also take pharmacology classes to better understand the prescription and over-the-counter medications they prescribe for patients.