Rakesh Mohan Hallen
The words medicine' and 'drug' are often used in our country to mean the same substances: any substance, manufactured artificially, which can help recovery from sickness, relieve symptoms or modify a natural process in the body. A medicine is often a mixture of several chemical compounds. Even if it has only one active component compound often other substances are used as fillers or binders to give it bulk. Chemistry, the science related to chemical substances, provides us the tools to make and study the substances that are the constituents of almost all medicines. The past hundred years or so, ever since the advent of organic chemistry, many chemical compounds have been discovered in nature that are effective for curing diseases. Modern chemistry has also made it possible to synthesize several medicines using methods of organic chemistry.
The most common medicines can be classified into few groups, e.g. antibiotics; antiseptics; analgesics; and antipyretics etc. While an antibiotic is a drug that kills or prevents the growth of bacteria, an analgesic is often used to relieve pain.
There are very many medicines that come under each of these groups. Often several chemical compounds that make a particular group of medicines, say antibiotics have similar chemical structure. Since the medicines in a particular group are effective for treating a particular type of ailment or disease, their mode of action can also be very similar. But, the methods used to isolate a medicine from its natural sources or to synthesize it are most often very different.
In this article, I have tried to find out the relationships between chemical structures of medicines in three groups of medicines, viz. Antibiotics; Antipyretics and Analgesics. I have also explored the mode of action of these groups of medicines and the chemical methods used to make them available.
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