By Donnell Koh | 3 March 2019
When you see a label on the package of medicines, you will notice a few ingredients besides the active drug. Having knowledge of chemistry helps the doctor or nurse know how the drug should be given or how it acts.
For example, the pain killer “ibuprofen” with its quantity mentioned as 100mg. It is labelled as coated tablets. This means, the tablets have a special coating so as to release the medicine only in the intestine. The usual tablets will dissolve in the stomach but not these. So the doctor who understands chemistry can understand the drug in the packet, its quantity, its coating material etc. He will be in a better position to decide if it can be given to children, old people or to just adults.
Medicines have many chemical properties like acidic, alkaline, oil soluble, water soluble, polarity, etc.
In the above picture, the drug belongs to the class of NSAID’s which means it is non-polar and also acidic in nature.
Knowledge of chemistry will help the doctor to understand how the drug is going to act. For example, an acidic drug will be better absorbed in the stomach while the alkaline drugs are well absorbed in the intestine. Also, a lipophilic drug has faster distribution into the brain and deeper tissues than a hydrophilic one. So a doctor can have an idea of how the drug is going to work in the body based on its chemical nature.
For those who aspire to be doctors, having a good understanding of Chemistry is vital.