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Clinical pharmacology and clinical pharmacy: a marriage of necessity
  1. Gilbert J Burckart
  1. GJB is a former President of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (1990–1991) and a former President of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology (2003–2004).
  1. Correspondence to Dr G J Burckart, Office of Clinical Pharmacology, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, US Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave, Building 51, Rm 3184, Silver Spring, MD 20993, USA; gilbert.burckart{at}

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The relationship between clinical pharmacology and clinical pharmacy has been periodically discussed over the past 40 years.1,,4 The goal of this commentary is not to rehash old arguments but rather to point out how acutely each profession needs the other in 2012 and beyond. Global economics, a demand for quality cost effective drug therapy, a pharmacological armamentarium of increasing complexity and new choices for the best and brightest students combine to drive clinical pharmacology and clinical pharmacy together.

This commentary was invited on the basis of a presentation at the American College of Clinical Pharmacology Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, USA in September 2011. The presentation focused on the US situation, so I apologise in advance for any comments that might not pertain to the situation in the UK and Europe. However, I think that the situation that I will discuss very much pertains to the American and the UK/European situation.

The focus of this discussion is critical problems facing both professions that should drive them together at the present time. In the case of clinical pharmacology, the lack of a critical mass of practitioners to deliver clinical pharmacology's public health commitment may very well serve to weaken and ultimately destroy the profession. In the case of clinical pharmacy, the struggle to bring cutting edge science into clinical pharmacy practice may sentence the profession to mediocrity in a decade that will see large numbers of ‘doctorate’ level practitioners in nursing and other health professions.

What is clinical pharmacology, and does clinical pharmacology have a public health commitment?

Professions are best represented by their societies, so the vision, mission and definition of clinical pharmacology can come from a website such as the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT). ASCPT is one of the largest organisations in the world dedicated entirely to clinical pharmacology. The ASCPT definition of …

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