Medicinal chemistry combines the disciplines of chemistry and pharmacology in order to form a science that exists to develop drugs suitable for human usage. Medicinal chemists work to design, study, and develop pharmaceutical drugs. In order to create new drugs, medicinal chemists must be able to draw upon various interdisciplinary subjects such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, physical chemistry, and computational chemistry.
Developing a new pharmaceutical drug requires a lengthy development and research process. Medicinal chemists must first uncover the chemical compound that they are looking for by drawing upon extensive chemical and biological knowledge. Aside from desired chemical compounds, chemists can also investigate certain plants, animals, and fungi to find the properties that they are seeking.
Once the ideal chemical compound has been discovered, the next step towards developing a drug is to further research the compound. By modifying certain agents within a compound, drugs that are suitable for humans are created. At this point, drugs are further tested for possible side effects, and many drugs are regulated by governments before they are available to consumers.
Many drugs that are developed in laboratories are never offered to the public. If government officials find that one type of drug poses too much of a risk, the drug must be altered by chemists. Once a drug is released, government officials take special care to make sure that the drug is fairly marketed. Medicinal chemists do not often have a hand in the marketing of a drug, though they will be called upon to make necessary changes to a drug that is not deemed safe by government officials.
While medicinal chemistry does require a solid background in chemistry, many of these professionals do not have a specific medicinal chemistry degree. In fact, most medicinal chemists only obtain a general chemistry degree at a graduate level. This form of certification is often enough to secure a position within a pharmaceutical company.
Medicinal chemistry is a vital part of the pharmaceutical industry, though it is one science that is carefully monitored by government officials. There are numerous political, environmental, and ethical concerns involved in the release of any new pharmaceutical drug. In order to produce drugs that are safe for human usage, each new drug must be tested, proven, and sent back to the medicinal chemistry drawing board if a drug does not live up to high government expectations.