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Pharmacy Glossary

Pharmacy Terms

Use this helpful reference to navigate key pharmacy terms and concepts.

[ B ]

Biopharmaceutical industry
The scientific field focused on studying the molecular, cellular, and genetic principles that play a role in drug development.

The modification of living organisms tailored for specific needs. An example would be the designing of organisms for the creation of antibiotics.

Brand name
A name given to a medication by the manufacturer that often becomes synonymous to its identity, for example, Ritalin.

[ C ]

Clinical trials

A multi-phased process from drug discovery through post-marketing surveillance to test and monitor the effectiveness and safety of medications or medical devices on large groups of people.

Community pharmacy
A community based pharmacy where the pharmacist does compounding, dispensing and documentation of prescriptions in addition to patient counseling and sometimes consultations with doctors.

The act of creating drug formulas that are specially tailored to patients; for example, liquid versions of medications normally available only in tablet/capsule/caplet form.

[ D ]

To prepare and distribute drugs.

Dose/ Dosage
The specified amount and quantity of the drug to be taken at one time.

Drug discovery
The process by which drugs are discovered and/or designed. The process of drug discovery involves the identification of candidates, synthesis, characterization, screening, and assays for therapeutic efficacy. Once a compound has shown its value in various tests, it will begin the process of drug development prior to clinical trials.

Drug therapy
The treatment of disease through the use of drugs; also referred to as pharmacotherapy.

[ E ]

The ability of a drug to produce the desired effect.

[ F ]

A pharmacologic substance prepared according to a formula.

[ G ]

Generic nonproprietary
A drug name not protected by a trademark (like aspirin), usually descriptive of the drug’s chemical structure.

[ H ]

Hospital pharmacy
Hospital pharmacy often involves all the different components of a hospital system including pharmaceutical supply and delivery, financing, hospital administration (management oversight) and direct patient care.

[ L ]

An informational tag that specifies ingredients, doses, warnings, and potential drug interactions (drugs that should not be taken at the same time).

[ M ]

Mail order
Mail order services allow individuals to receive prescriptions conveniently through the mail. Many services also offer telephonic connection with a pharmacist to provide virtual pharmacy support and advice.

Managed care pharmacy
Managed care pharmacy involves a number of clinical and drug management services for members who are part of an insurance plan. Because it is important that insurance plans offer high quality care while also balancing the economic needs of all its members, managed care pharmacy also involves cost management and analysis of the members’ treatment and care outcomes.

[ O ]

Oath of a Pharmacist
This Oath is taken by pharmacy students upon graduation. By taking this Oath, they voluntarily vow to dedicate themselves to a “lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy.”

Over-the-Counter (OTC)
Medication that does not require a prescription.

[ P ]

Of or relating to drugs.

Pharmaceutical chemistry
The science dealing with the composition and preparation of chemical compounds used in medication and drug therapies.

Pharmaceutical sciences
Of or relating to drugs.

Pharmaceutical technology
All of the technologies involved in the development and use of drugs.

Pertaining to pharmacy or pharmacists.

Refers to the scientific discipline that analyzes the cost of a drug and weighs it against the drug’s benefits, the benefits of similar drugs and the potential need for the drug.

The use of genetic testing to design new drugs and to prescribe more effectively existing drugs.

The study of how drugs are taken up, biologically transformed, distributed, metabolized, and eliminated from the body.

The art and science of preparing and dispensing drugs and medicine; also known as a drugstore.

An order, usually from a doctor, for the preparation and administration of a medicine, assistive or corrective device (like a wheel chair or crutches), or other treatment.

Public health
The science and practice of protecting and improving the health of a community with the use of preventive medicine, health education, control of contagious diseases, application of sanitary measures (like anti-bacterial lotion in hospitals), and monitoring of environmental hazards (like the air quality at Ground Zero.)

[ R ]

R&D stands for “research and development.” In the context of pharmacy, it relates to the research and development of new medicines.

Controlled by a rule or law.

[ S ]

Side effects
Problems that occur from taking medication in addition to the desired therapeutic effect (for example, sleepiness).

Specialty Drugs
High-cost injectable (administered with a needle), infused (prepared with water to make a liquid), oral, or inhaled drugs that generally require special storage or handling and close monitoring of the patient’s drug therapy.

[ T ]

Having or exhibiting healing powers.

The study of the nature, effects and detection of poisons as well as the treatment of poisoning.

[ V ]

Any of a group of organic substances essential in small quantities to a person’s normal metabolism, found in minute amounts in natural foodstuffs or sometimes produced synthetically.

Government & Pharmacy Organizations

Here you will find a glossary of government and pharmacy organizations and their associated acronyms

[ A ]

Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)
The national organization of all accredited colleges and schools with pharmacy degree programs. Founded in 1900, the organization’s mission is to lead and partner with members in advancing pharmacy education, research, scholarship, practice and service to improve societal health.

American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists

American College of Apothecaries

American Pharmacists Association (APhA)
Founded in 1852, it is the oldest established professional society of pharmacists in the United States. Today there are over 62,000 pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians who belong to APhA.

American Society of Consultant Pharmacists

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

[ C ]

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS)
The U.S. government agency that oversees Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; also provides information.

[ D ]

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
The main agency in the U.S. for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
As part of the U.S. Department of Justice, this government agency combats drug smuggling and misuse within the country.

[ F ]

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The government body that approves both prescription and over-the-counter drugs for safety and effectiveness.

[ N ]

National Association of Boards of Pharmacy

National Association of Chain Drug Stores

National Community Pharmacists Association

National Pharmacists Association (NPhA)

[ P ]

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America