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Have you ever wondered how drugs end up in a bottle in your medicine cabinet?

Alison Cooper is lead educator on the free online course, “Good Brain, Bad Brain: Drug Origins,” from the University of Birmingham. Here, she discusses the changing nature of drug development and the range of factors involved, from scientific to legal. 

Good brain, bad brain: drug origins

Think about the last time you took a drug – was it an antibiotic for an infection or was it something you take every day for a long term condition like epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease? Whatever the reason, most people will have taken drugs as medication at some point in their lives – the World Health Organisation estimates that the pharmaceutical industry is worth US$300 billion and that’s a lot of pills!

But have you ever stopped to wonder how that drug ended up in a bottle in your medicine cabinet? Have you ever considered the processes of drug discovery and development that had to be thought about, designed, researched and conducted in a reliable and reproducible way to get that drug there?

In this course we are going to take a journey through history to consider how the use of animals and plants as medicines has changed and how computer modelling and high level mathematics is now contributing to our search for better drugs. We will need to think about a variety of aspects from the scientific aspects of the chemistry and biology through to the legal requirements involved. We will also need to consider how, or even if, we can decide whether a drug is safe for use.

The material is pitched to allow anyone who has ever taken a drug and now wants to find out where it came from to engage with it – you do not need to be a high level scientist!

You will each have signed up to this course for a variety of reasons and will bring with you a breadth and depth of experience which I hope will make the interactive elements of the course via your comment postings valuable to the group.

If you’re interested in gaining insight into the workings of this multi-billion pound industry that affects all us all, join “Good Brain, Bad Brain: Drug Origins” now.

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