Biological medicines – Modernity in pharmacy 20th October 2023 – Tags: , , ,

The pharmaceutical and biological medicines market is full of all kinds of medicines for most diseases. New OTC and generic medicines appear in pharmacies. However, in addition to the most well-known pharmaceuticals, doctors are increasingly using a relatively new creation in pharmacy – biological medicines. What are these medicines and what diseases do they treat?

What are biologics?

Biological medicines are medicinal products produced by living organisms or containing components of living organisms. Biological products may contain proteins that control the action of other protein compounds and cellular processes themselves, genes that control the formation of proteins necessary for life, modified human hormones, or cells that suppress or activate elements of the immune system. The field that specializes in creating new bio medicines is biotechnology.


History of biologics:

Despite quite modern solutions related to this group of medicines, they were used thousands of years ago. Even modern ideas such as vaccination date back hundreds of years – vaccination against smallpox using powdered scabs from wounds was practiced in China as early as the 10th century. However, it was not until the 20th century that biologics were recognized as their own class of medicines. During this period, biological products such as vaccines, sera and vitamins became mass-produced products. The 20th century also saw the first use of an in-vitro system for the production of biological medicines when, in 1949, researchers at Bostons Children Hospital produced Lasinga type II poliovirus using human cell cultures. The advent of genetic engineering in the late 1970s and 1980s opened up new possibilities for the production and development of medicines.

Types of biological medicines:

  • Vaccinations
  • Blood and its components
  • Allergens
  • Somatic cells
  • Gene therapy
  • Tissues
  • Recombinant therapeutic proteins
Prototypes of biological drugs that we encounter today were introduced thousands of years ago.

How do biological medicines differ from conventional medicines?

Unlike most conventional medicines, which are chemically synthesized and whose structures are known, most biological medicines are complex mixtures that cannot be easily identified or characterized. Another difference between conventional medicines and biological medicines is their origin. Biological medicines are obtained using biotechnological processes on living organisms or their tissues/other compounds. Conventional medicines are obtained through chemical synthesis in specialized laboratories.

Conditions for which medicines are used:

  • Cancer
  • Rheumatism
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis

Forms of biological medicines:

Biological medicines are proteins that are quickly digested and inactivated after oral administration. Therefore, biologics are delivered as powders for infusion or solutions for injection.

The photo shows one form of biological drugs - injectable drugs.

Side effects of biological medicines:

Side effects usually depend on the type of medicine. The most common symptoms include allergic reactions and pain at the site of administration, headache, redness, swelling, nausea and rash.


  1. NCBI
  2. European Medicines Agency
  4. Gentaur
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