Understanding Forensic Pharmacology: What Indian Physicians
Pharmacology is a branch of medical science which deals mainly with drug classifications, actions, side effects and therapeutic uses. Standard textbooks like “Goodman & Gilman’s The Pharmacological basis of Therapeutics” describes subject of pharmacology as a broad one that embraces the knowledge of the source, physical and chemical properties, physiological actions, absorption, metabolism, excretion and therapeutic uses of drugs.1 It also defines drug as any chemical agent that affects living protoplasm.1 This definition of drugs includes the poisons and toxic chemicals as well. Toxicology is concerned with the deleterious effects of the poisons and chemical agents on all living systems.2 Toxicology forms a subset of Forensic Medicine for medical syllabus in India. It is defined as the science that involves detection of drugs and toxins in biological samples and its application for medico-legal purposes.3

The interpretation of drug effects, use or abuse and its duration of action for the medico-legal process is referred to as Forensic Pharmacology.4 A fine line differentiates Toxicology and Forensic Pharmacology. Some textbook use terms like “Pharmacological toxicology” for evaluating the toxicity of therapeutic drugs.5 Parikh’s textbook of Medical jurisprudence, Forensic medicine & Toxicology, mentions Forensic Pharmacology as a part of Forensic medicine.3 It discusses toxicities from the drugs in therapeutic use, drugs for abuse, drugs having no medicinal value and “street” or “designer drugs”.3 Thus Forensic pharmacology forms an interface between pharmacology, toxicology and forensic medicine....