Is Pharmacy Related To Biochemistry? (Biochem/Pharmacy Relationship)

biochemistry in pharmacy school

What is the relationship between pharmacy and biochemistry? Biochemistry is the science branch that explores the chemical processes within and related to living organisms. Talking about pharmacy, it is the science or practice of the preparation and dispensing of medical drugs.

So is pharmacy school related to biochemistry? 

Biochemistry and pharmacy are both related. Biochemistry plays a vital role in pharmacy. Biochemistry is the study of chemical processes within organisms. Knowing how, when, why, and where the chemical reactions take place helps a pharmacist prepare the medication accurately.

In your pharmacy education, you will learn about biochemistry, i.e., chemical processes that occur within the living organisms. For those who are interested in knowing more about biochemistry, there is a different degree. After completing the biochemistry degree, you can get as a researcher, biomedical scientist, clinical scientist, or forensic scientist.

The skills, experience, and education required to become a biochemist and a pharmacist are different. With a biochemistry degree, you can get into research, industry, management, journalism.

If you are fond of the research part, a biochemistry degree is for you. By getting a biochemistry degree, you can get your career in industry and research in areas like health, agriculture, and the environment. Job positions related to biochemistry are: Academic researcher, Analytical chemist, Biomedical scientist, Biotechnologist, Clinical research associate, Clinical scientist, biochemistry, Forensic scientist, Medicinal chemist, Nanotechnologist, Pharmacologist, Physician associate, Research scientist (life sciences), and Scientific laboratory technician.

Talking about pharmacists, they are healthcare professionals who practice in pharmacy. Pharmacists are into all the aspects of medicine delivery to patients. Their primary duty is to ensure the safe delivery of medicines.

Can a biochemist become a pharmacist?

You can become a pharmacist by completing the pharmacy education and getting the licensure. Pharmacy and biochemistry are related, but the skills, knowledge, and education required to become a biochemist, and a pharmacist are quite different.

The thing is a pharmacist is a good biochemist, but a biochemist is not a good pharmacist. The reason why pharmacists are good biochemists is that biochemistry is an essential part of the pharmacy education syllabus. On the flip side, biochemist degrees don’t cover essential topics required to become pharmacists, like pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.

Hence, we can say that a biochemist cannot become a pharmacist. If you are a biochemist and want to be a pharmacist, you will require pharmacy education. You will need to complete the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. After that, you will also need to take and pass the licensure exam (NAPLEX) to become a pharmacist.

Biochemistry vs Pharmacy

Biochemistry is the study of chemical and physio-chemical processes that occur within an organism. As a biochemist, you will be studying the chemical and physical properties of living things and biological processes like cell development, growth, heredity, and disease.

Biochemistry is not for all. You may or may not be interested in the job description of biochemistry. As a biochemist, your day to day tasks would include conducting research projects, managing laboratory teams, preparing technical reports, and presenting research findings.

Biochemists work mainly in research roles in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Apart from this, they also work in food technology, toxicology, and vaccine production. In a nutshell, if researches and laboratories interest you, then a biochemistry degree is for you.

What education will you need to become a biochemist? A bachelor’s and master’s holder with strong abilities in biology and chemistry can get entry into the biochemistry field.

Talking about pharmacy, it is the science or practice of preparation and dispensing of medicinal drugs. Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who work in the pharmacy. As a pharmacist, your job duties will be varied than that of a biochemist. For a pharmacist, the responsibilities can slightly differ depending on the type of pharmacy. For example, it could be a retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, clinical pharmacy, ambulatory pharmacy, academic pharmacy, or any other.

Pharmacists are responsible for: the quality of medicines supplied to patients,.ensuring that the supply of medicines is within the law, ensuring that the medication prescribed to patients are suitable, advising patients about medicines, including how to take them, what reactions may occur, and answering patients’ questions.

As a pharmacist, you need to make sure whatever medication you dispense to your patients are safe for use. You will also need to consult and guide patients about use.

To become a pharmacist, first of all, you will need at least two years of specific pre-professional (undergraduate) coursework. After that, you will need four years (PharmD) of professional study. Once you complete the education, you will need to take and pass the licensure examination (NAPLEX).

Biochemistry in Pharmacy School

Biochemistry plays a vital role in pharmacy education. Apart from the pharmacy, biochemistry plays a significant role in other fields as well, like nursing, medicine, nutrition, agriculture, etc. Biochemistry is in the pharmacy syllabus. During your pharmacy coursework, you will learn about biochemistry. The knowledge of how, when, why, and where the chemical reactions take place helps a pharmacist to prepare the medication accurately.

Here’s the importance of biochemistry in the pharmacy:

  • Gives an idea of its constitution,
  • Its change of degradation with varying temperature,
  • How drugs are metabolized by biochemical reactions in the presence of enzymes

Biochem in Pharmacy School According To Current/Past Students

We didn’t want you to only take our word for it on Biochem in Pharmacy School so we went out and gathered information from current and past students. We curated this information so the only thing that was changed was an spelling or grammar where needed.

1. AzPharmD2B “Depends on school” – It depends on the school really. Check the curriculum out. Some schools have you take biochem, phys chem, and med chem. But as others have and will say, just like physics, its a good weeder course. It shows how well you adapt to difficult and very different material. If you hate the class and are doing that poorly, you might want to consider dropping the class and taking it with another instructor or when you have more time to devote to it.

2. RNtoPharmD “Very related” –

I am currently taking Biochem and of course, we’ll all be required to take it in pharm school.

You definitely need strong background of Orgo and Gen chem as a foundation of Biochem!! eg. Steriochemistry, functional groups, nucleophile-electrophil, isomerization, Hess’s law,nomenclature etc..etc…

3. BWsalvas “Pharmacy school is chemistry” –

Pharmacy school is chemistry. Organic chemistry covers the basic principles that are played out daily in the pharmaceutical sciences.

Biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, therapeutics, kinetics….these all have to do with a strong background in chemistry.

If you don’t like or can’t do well in chemistry I suggest a rethinking of your career goals.

4. DoctorRx1986 “Biochem must have” – Honestly, i’ve never heard of pharmacy schools incorporating physical chemistry as a class in the curriculum. Biochemistry and medicinal chemistry are must haves, but physical chemistry i’ve just never heard of in the pharmacy curriculum. I will be a P1 at NSU this fall and pchem is NOT part of the curriculum. We have to take one semester of biochemistry and four semesters of a course titled pharmacodynamics. The latter course incorporates pharmacology and medicinal chemistry. There is no pchem at all.

5. RXlea “Biochem on steroids” –

Biochem in pharmacy school is like biochem on steroids. I recommend taking a biochem course during undergrad so that you have a knowledge base. They will go through the material very quickly, so if you have a background, you won’t have to devote quite as much time to it as other students who have not taken the class.

You need to get as many passes over the material as possible. It’s not fun but it’s what you have to do. Find out your learning style before heading into pharmacy school. It will help improve your study habits.

6. WVUPharm2007 “You need it for many reasons” –

You need it to understand pharmacology as well as you can.

The cellular respiration stuff is only useful in understanding how drugs affect metabolic pathophysiology. Diabetes…metabolic syndrome…etc. Personally, I like metabolism more than any other realm of medical crap simple because it is so complex and still a subject of vast potential for future therapeutic modalities, so I ate that biochem stuff up back in the day.

7. Cloud9 “Don’t necessarily need for pre-req depending on school” –

Apply wherever and whenever…I was accepted to VCU this year and I don’t have biochemistry on my transcript yet. I’m taking it at a community college nearby since they don’t have it in my school in the spring, not to mention it’s easier there since the classes are not huge (250+ people), it’s a lot cheaper, and in general the professor is more enjoyable. Is the professor at the comm college any less qualified than the one at the university? Not at all.

So what you can do is still apply to both schools and over the summer move out early and take the class at a school near VCU or near Auburn. Why not?? VCU will still accept you with the premise that you’ll have it done before you matriculate…problem solved.

8. UESGirl “Can’t downplay the importance” – just by looking at pharm schools curriculum I can see we’ll be required to take organic,biochem, pchem, medicinal chem. I don’t know how much further you can simplify those subjects. Pchem will always be pchem, I imagine it must not be as intense as undergrad but how simple can it be ?;) Same with organic and biochem. Those subjects can only be simplified sooo much. I also doubt there are THAT much simplier – when I was taking biochem as an undergrad and my friend was taking it at UCSF we were even studying together because our classes required similar knowledge and types of problems.

I also think people tend to downplay things too. When people ask me: Oh, how was pchem ? I say: not as bad as everyone makes it to be. But then again I got like the highest score in a class. They’d probably get a different aswer if they asked somebody else.

I would never discourage you from pursuing pharmacy school but I think you need to figure out why you don’t like chemistry. People usually do not like certain subjects because they are not doing well in them. And given the fact that I was Ochem TA and tutor for a couple years I know exactly why most people do not like ochem – and it usually has to do with the fact that they do not study properly for it.

+pad+I can’t remember what it is called but I know some pharmacy schools will let their students bring a guest non student to class with them. UCSF I think does that. Perhaps you can try going to the chem classes in pharmacy school and see for yourself how hard or easy they are.

9. DocRX1991 “Have to take at least 1 semester” – Honestly, i’ve never heard of pharmacy schools incorporating physical chemistry as a class in the curriculum. Biochemistry and medicinal chemistry are must haves, but physical chemistry i’ve just never heard of in the pharmacy curriculum. I will be a P1 at NSU this fall and pchem is NOT part of the curriculum. We have to take one semester of biochemistry and four semesters of a course titled pharmacodynamics. The latter course incorporates pharmacology and medicinal chemistry. There is no pchem at all.

10. Bw6 “Lots of all chemistry” –

In my experience, lotsa chemistry. Lotsa biochemistry as well. Very little biology. They tend to focus on science subjects more relevant to drugs (biochemistry, physiology, medicinal chemistry) and not biology.

Not be quite honest, biology is not nearly as relevant to pharmacy as chemistry. I would have to say that biochemistry and physiology will prepare you the best for pharmacy school.

Final Thoughts

Biochemists cannot become pharmacists because they don’t learn about pharmacy during their coursework. To become a pharmacist after completing biochemistry, you will need to complete pharmacy coursework. In short, pharmacists are good biochemists, while biochemists are not good pharmacists without going through and getting the PharmD.

As you can see above you will get a heavy dose of Chemistry throughout your schooling. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will need BioChem in your Pre-requisite courses however.

Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

Recent Posts