Pharmacology vs Toxicology | 10 Basic Differences

Pharmacology is a science that studies the effect of a drug and the body’s response to it. It is aimed at bringing therapeutic benefits from the drug.

Toxicology is a science that studies the poison characters of a substance and also its adverse effects on living beings. 

But, in areas like drug research, both pharmacology and toxicology are employed. However, the role of these two studies is different yet vital.

Pharmacology vs Toxicology Differences

Since both studies are utilized in drug research, there is a chance of confusion, and it would be important to know the differences and similarities. But before we go further, we need to be clear of the terms “toxin and medicine.”

Poison/ toxin: Any substance beyond a certain dose acts as a poison to living beings. This is true for even the water we drink and the oxygen we inhale.

Drug or medicine: Any substance that is intended to treat, cure, diagnose, prevent a disease or body discomfort is called a drug.

So, from the above terms, it is clear that all substances can act as poisons, but only a few of them can act as medicine.

Sl. NoCharacterPharmacologyToxicology
1.AimTo ascertain the efficacy and compatibility of the drug in the treatment of disease.To ascertain the doses at which the drug or substance causes toxicity. Or the even the causes of adverse effects and death (for legal purposes)
2.ParametersThe effective dose (ED 50), the volume of distribution, clearance rate, half-life ( t1⁄2), etc.The lethal dose 50 (LD50), lethal concentration 50 (LC50) are determined.
3.Subjects for studyStudies are done on both animals and humans. But they are aliveStudies are confined mostly to animals. But for forensic purposes, it is done even on dead bodies.
4.Substances testedMedicines, devices, vaccines.Any substance which can have an effect on living organisms.
5.Point of studiesIt is done after toxicological studies.It is done prior to pharmacological studies to minimize the chances of adverse effects in humans and animals.
6.Range of studiesIt is done at different levels as preclinical and clinical studies.It is done as acute, subacute, and chronic toxicity studies.
7. Scale of studiesIt is done on a small scale, like in hundreds or thousands of subjects.It is continued on a wide scale-like on thousands or millions of subjects (clinical trials 3 and 4) to check for adverse effects on the whole population.
8.ReportsThe minimum dose is required to produce a therapeutic effect.The maximum tolerable dose without toxic effects is determined.
9.End goalTo restore health and well-being in a safe manner.To preserve and protect the health of humans and the environment.
10.BranchesTwo prominent branches like pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.Different branches like medical toxicology, environmental toxicology, forensic toxicology, etc.

Pharmacology vs. Toxicology Similarities in medicine

There are few similarities when seen on medical studies in between them like

Sl. NOFeaturePharmacologyToxicology
1Animals usedAlbino Rats, mice, guinea pigsThe same set of animals are used for toxicology too.
2Method of administrationOral or parenteral administrationsThe method of administration is the same as in pharmacology.
3Mode of studyScreening methodIt is also a screening test.
4Substances state or formEither solid, liquid, gas, powder, crystalline or amorphous.The same form of the substance is used for both studies when a particular medicine is screened.


What is the dose in toxicology?

The dose at which the substance shows adverse effects is the dose in toxicology. This is determined by LD50 or LC50.

Are toxicology and pharmacology the same

From the above differences, you could make out that they are not the same. But both are needed for effective healthcare.

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