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Biopharmaceutical Medicine: A Simple Guide

A patient’s guide to biopharmaceutical medications.
Lab equipment used for biopharmaceutical medicine

You’ve probably heard the saying “the only constant is change.” This may be more true in the world of healthcare than anywhere else. Researchers are constantly making new discoveries, but many of these discoveries don’t come from new technology. They come from nature that has always existed. Some of the most beneficial gifts from nature are turned into biopharmaceutical medicine.

Let’s break down what they are and why they’re so critical today.

Table of Contents

1. What Is A Biopharmaceutical?

2. Why Is Biopharmaceutical Medicine Used?

3. Benefits of Biopharmaceuticals

4. Who Should Use Biopharmaceuticals?

5. Get Treated with Biopharmaceutical Medicine

6. Understanding the Power of Nature in Biopharmaceuticals

What Is A Biopharmaceutical?

A biopharmaceutical is any medication that comes from a biological source. To be more specific, these medications can be extracted from, manufactured in, or synthesized from biological material. That sounds complicated, but all it means is that a natural organism (or part of one) was used in some way. The alternative is medication that is created in a synthetic way.

Also, the biological materials used in biopharmaceuticals can be nearly anything. For example, some medicines are made using bacteria or human blood cells. You may also hear the term “biologics.” This is another term for biopharmaceuticals.

What Is Biopharmaceutical Science?

Biopharmaceutical science is the study of creating medicine from biological materials or organisms. In other words, biopharmaceutical science is the process of developing biopharmaceuticals. Often, a research facility focuses on biopharmaceutical science rather than pharmaceutical science. Biological materials need to be handled in specific ways, so it makes sense to have facilities dedicated to this type of research.

What Is Biopharmaceutical Medicine?

Biopharmaceutical medicine is the practice of medicine using biopharmaceuticals. In most cases, there aren’t facilities or doctors that only practice biopharmaceutical medicine. Skilled physicians use a combination of biopharmaceuticals and traditional pharmaceuticals or other treatments to manage your health.

Pharmaceutical Medicines vs. Biopharmaceutical Medicines

One way to understand biopharmaceuticals is to look at how they differ from pharmaceuticals. Today, traditional pharmaceuticals are manufactured with chemical processes and synthetic materials. They’re purely a creation of modern science. Biopharmaceutical medicines are the result of teamwork between modern science and nature. Researchers use new technology to find ways to harness the power of certain biological components.

Innovator Biopharmaceuticals vs. Biosimilar Biopharmaceuticals

This is a bit more in-depth into industry lingo, but it’s easier to understand than you might expect. You may see the terms “innovator biopharmaceutical” and “biosimilar biopharmaceutical.” These terms are most used in discussions about legal regulations like FDA approval. An innovator biopharmaceutical is a brand new biopharmaceutical medication. It’s unlike anything that has been made before.

A biosimilar biopharmaceutical is a biopharmaceutical medication that is very similar to an existing biopharmaceutical. It’s so biologically similar that there are no meaningful differences in its effects or the way it works in the body. Think of it like two different brands that are made with nearly identical recipes.

Why Is Biopharmaceutical Medicine Used?

You may not have heard the term “biopharmaceutical” before, but it has probably played a role in your healthcare. There are numerous types of biopharmaceuticals that treat or prevent a variety of conditions. For example, vaccines are biopharmaceuticals. So are hormone-containing medications. Some of the most common biopharmaceuticals today include:

  • Botox, the popular anti-wrinkle injection that is also used for medical issues like migraines and chronic pain
  • Enbrel, a medication for rheumatoid arthritis, plaque psoriasis, and a few other autoimmune conditions
  • Humira, an immunosuppressant for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and plaque psoriasis
  • Gardasil, the HPV vaccine
  • Insulin for people with diabetes
  • Growth hormone, which can treat a growth hormone deficiency or a loss of muscle tissue due to certain diseases

It’s possible you’ve been treated with biopharmaceuticals, even if you didn’t know it.

Benefits of Biopharmaceuticals

Hand wearing glove holding leafs for biopharmaceutical medicine
Credit: Chokniti Khongchum | Pexels

Why do we use biopharmaceuticals in the healthcare industry? They offer a variety of unique benefits. Biopharmaceuticals tend to cause very specific actions within your body. They are designed to target one type of cell or tissue without affecting anything else. This allows for targeted treatments like medications that only affect certain immune cells. Because they’re so targeted, biopharmaceuticals also have minimal side effects.

They perform one specific action on one type of cell or tissue. This means they won’t cause unintended actions in other parts of your body. In some cases, biopharmaceuticals help patients who don’t respond to synthetic drugs. Of course, this varies from case to case.

Who Should Use Biopharmaceuticals?

Physicians prescribe biopharmaceuticals on a case-by-case basis. Each person’s medical care requires a personal approach. Some types of biopharmaceuticals are recommended for nearly everyone, like many vaccines. Other biopharmaceuticals are prescribed based on medical conditions. Some conditions have a record of better health outcomes when they’re treated with biopharmaceuticals.

In some cases, there is only a biopharmaceutical option and not a synthetic option that does the same thing. That’s the case for people with diabetes who take insulin, for example. Biopharmaceuticals are a class of medication rather than an approach to medicine. Also, your physician doesn’t need to choose a biopharmaceutical approach over a pharmaceutical approach. They may use a combination of both, depending on your needs.

With that in mind, though, if you’ve had minimal results with traditional pharmaceuticals, it’s worth asking your doctor if there’s a biopharmaceutical option you can try.

Get Treated with Biopharmaceutical Medicine

If your doctor decides to use biopharmaceuticals for your care, what do you need to know? There are a few aspects of the treatment that are different from most traditional pharmaceuticals.

How Biopharmaceutical Medicine Administered

Hand holding needle with biopharmaceutical medicine
Credit: RF Studio | Pexels

The way biopharmaceuticals are handle is interesting. You may have noticed that all the examples of biopharmaceuticals we mentioned above are injections. There’s a reason for this. As beneficial as biopharmaceuticals are, they are more sensitive than biopharmaceuticals. They can degrade more easily. That’s why, they’re often given as injections instead of oral medications.

Biopharmaceuticals are also handled and stored in a more precise way for the same reason. They need to stay at specific temperatures, for example.

Are Biopharmaceuticals Safe?

There’s a common assumption that nature is less predictable than science. This leads people to assume that biopharmaceuticals aren’t as trustworthy. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. Modern medical technology can create biologics with high accuracy and reliability. Biopharmaceuticals also go through the same testing and approval process as chemical pharmaceuticals.

As always, have your prescription biologics overseen by a knowledgeable professional . Rest assured that biologics are not a less reliable or more dangerous type of care.

Getting Your Medical Care and Biopharmaceutical Medicine From One Place

One of the best ways to get ideal results from your biologics is to choose an integrated medical system. You want your physician and pharmacist to be on the same page and be able to collaborate with ease. You’ll find this with a system like SRx. Our integrated healthcare model allows you to have your entire care team working together for your health. It’s a path to stronger health, whether or not your care involves biologics.

Understanding the Power of Nature in Biopharmaceuticals

Biopharmaceuticals are a fantastic marriage of modern science and nature. Talk to your doctor about whether this type of medication can help you manage your health. As fascinating as biopharmaceuticals are, there’s so much more to discover in the world of healthcare.Sign up for the SRx newsletter today to get educational and interesting reads in your inbox.

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