Pharmocology, Pharmacy and Chemistry Watch

Feraligatr
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Hello all, I'm a Year 12 student considering doing a Chemistry-orientated degree. I'm doing Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and History at AS (hoping to drop History)

I want to go into the Pharmeutical Industry but also want the flexibility of working in other chemical industries such as the production of food and drink and cleaning products.

Just wanted to ask, in my situtation, out of the three - pharmacology, pharmacy or a pure generic chemistry degree - which would the most suitable degree to choose from?

Since I lack Maths and Physics, would I also be at a disadvantage? And if Pharmaceutical Chemistry a degree worth considering in my situation?

And finally what is the difference between Medinical Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry?
Thanks and sorry for the bombardment of questions
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Nymthae
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What sort of role do you want in those industries? One side of it will require chemical knowledge, and the other will require biochemical/pharmokinetic knowledge.

So my understanding is the pharmacology aspect of things will bother about the mechanisms of drug action, how it's metabolised, pathways, toxicological effects and so on. I'm not entirely sure on the intricate details between pharmacy and pharmacology, although if you want to be a pharmacist potentially then the MPharm is the necessary choice there - but outside of that I don't think it necessarily opens or closes any other doors. The life sciences forum is likely to have someone there who can answer that better, as it's a very common question.

Chemistry is more... chemistry. The typical role a chemist would have in the pharmaceutical industry is in early stage development of drugs - so they synthesise the potential drugs that eventually biochemists and pharmacologists study. Within your chemistry degree you are unlikely to study anything much to do with the biochemical pathways of drug action or how they work specifically. You may get chance to take an occasional module related (i.e. I have a module called 'medicinal chemistry' in my final year now) which might give you a general oversight of the industry and a basic grounding in the types of knowledge/processes looked at (ADME properties, for instance). Overall though, you won't come out with pharmacological knowledge.

Outside of pharmaceuticals there's a huge variety of areas within the chemical industry, and you'd be perfectly trained to go into food producers. Cleaning products, household products, personal care etc. usually all come under formulation chemistry, so if you have a quick google for formulation scientists roles (companies like Unilever) and see what they ask for. You're qualified as a chemist, but I doubt you would be so much as a pharmacologist. There are more specific roles like pharmaceutical formulation though, which may be focused towards drug encapsulation or delivery systems, and they would be suitable for you. Pharmaceutical formulations seem to crop up quite a bit in my job searches so it's probably a realistic option. Once you have formulations experience i'm not sure how easy/hard it could be to cross over.

Medicinal v.s. Pharmaceutical - check the modules. I imagine they are probably quite similar, but there may be some small variations in what they cover.

I reckon you'd probably find more of the pharmacy/pharmacology degree interesting or relevant to what you want to do, but chemistry I think will leave you a wider pool of opportunities. It would mean you'd have to put up with more content in your degree you might not enjoy (physical chemistry, quite probably). It also depends how likely you are to think you might change your mind. I thought being a medicinal chemist was the path for me (so I took chemistry, loved organic chemistry, lined myself up with a focus to a placement at GSK...) and then realised it wasn't what I wanted to do. It sounds to me that generally speaking, pharmacology (or pharmacy, whatever the difference) is the more suitable option for your primary interests, but chemistry if you are looking for flexibility after you graduate.

Maths and Physics - whilst not the most ideal situation, you would be alright for entry into a lot of chemical courses, as you have biology. During first year they will just force you to do a mandatory maths/physics module to bridge that gap. It could feel like a lot at once, but certainly whether you did it during first year or at A-level seemingly has no bearing on later success. If you're willing to do the work I wouldn't let it worry you too much.
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Feraligatr
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(Original post by Nymthae)
What sort of role do you want in those industries? One side of it will require chemical knowledge, and the other will require biochemical/pharmokinetic knowledge.

So my understanding is the pharmacology aspect of things will bother about the mechanisms of drug action, how it's metabolised, pathways, toxicological effects and so on. I'm not entirely sure on the intricate details between pharmacy and pharmacology, although if you want to be a pharmacist potentially then the MPharm is the necessary choice there - but outside of that I don't think it necessarily opens or closes any other doors. The life sciences forum is likely to have someone there who can answer that better, as it's a very common question.

Chemistry is more... chemistry. The typical role a chemist would have in the pharmaceutical industry is in early stage development of drugs - so they synthesise the potential drugs that eventually biochemists and pharmacologists study. Within your chemistry degree you are unlikely to study anything much to do with the biochemical pathways of drug action or how they work specifically. You may get chance to take an occasional module related (i.e. I have a module called 'medicinal chemistry' in my final year now) which might give you a general oversight of the industry and a basic grounding in the types of knowledge/processes looked at (ADME properties, for instance). Overall though, you won't come out with pharmacological knowledge.

Outside of pharmaceuticals there's a huge variety of areas within the chemical industry, and you'd be perfectly trained to go into food producers. Cleaning products, household products, personal care etc. usually all come under formulation chemistry, so if you have a quick google for formulation scientists roles (companies like Unilever) and see what they ask for. You're qualified as a chemist, but I doubt you would be so much as a pharmacologist. There are more specific roles like pharmaceutical formulation though, which may be focused towards drug encapsulation or delivery systems, and they would be suitable for you. Pharmaceutical formulations seem to crop up quite a bit in my job searches so it's probably a realistic option. Once you have formulations experience i'm not sure how easy/hard it could be to cross over.

Medicinal v.s. Pharmaceutical - check the modules. I imagine they are probably quite similar, but there may be some small variations in what they cover.

I reckon you'd probably find more of the pharmacy/pharmacology degree interesting or relevant to what you want to do, but chemistry I think will leave you a wider pool of opportunities. It would mean you'd have to put up with more content in your degree you might not enjoy (physical chemistry, quite probably). It also depends how likely you are to think you might change your mind. I thought being a medicinal chemist was the path for me (so I took chemistry, loved organic chemistry, lined myself up with a focus to a placement at GSK...) and then realised it wasn't what I wanted to do. It sounds to me that generally speaking, pharmacology (or pharmacy, whatever the difference) is the more suitable option for your primary interests, but chemistry if you are looking for flexibility after you graduate.

Maths and Physics - whilst not the most ideal situation, you would be alright for entry into a lot of chemical courses, as you have biology. During first year they will just force you to do a mandatory maths/physics module to bridge that gap. It could feel like a lot at once, but certainly whether you did it during first year or at A-level seemingly has no bearing on later success. If you're willing to do the work I wouldn't let it worry you too much.
Thanks for the intenstive reply, I repped you earlier but didn't have the chance to reply back

I'm more interested in developing drugs so I hope to become a development/process chemist (i.e. Medinical chemistry I believe)

In regards to working in the Pharma Industry though, would be it better to pursue a degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry/Medinical Chemistry or a more generic chemistry degree such as pure chemistry?

I've looked into Pharmacy, but I don't think it appeals as much as Chemistry and Pharmacology since I don't really wanna work in a Pharmacy behind a counter dispensing medicine.

Thanks for the information on checking companies like Uniliever and GSK. Will check them soon too

Once again, thanks for the information
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TheAlchemistt
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(Original post by zhang-liao)
Thanks for the intenstive reply, I repped you earlier but didn't have the chance to reply back

I'm more interested in developing drugs so I hope to become a development/process chemist (i.e. Medinical chemistry I believe)

In regards to working in the Pharma Industry though, would be it better to pursue a degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry/Medinical Chemistry or a more generic chemistry degree such as pure chemistry?

I've looked into Pharmacy, but I don't think it appeals as much as Chemistry and Pharmacology since I don't really wanna work in a Pharmacy behind a counter dispensing medicine.

Thanks for the information on checking companies like Uniliever and GSK. Will check them soon too

Once again, thanks for the information
I think the previous user would be able to answer this better since she's in 2nd year, I'm only in first year. From people I know and people I've talked too it seems that a generic chemistry degree is better then doing medicinal chemistry as you can specialise later. Pharmaceutical companies take o both type of degrees so Imo I think it would be best to do a chemistry degree and maybe pick the medicinal chem options at your own interest.

Hope this helps


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