Pharmacotherapy is therapy using pharmaceutical drugs as distinguished from therapy using surgery (surgical therapy), radiation (radiation therapy), movement (physical therapy), or other modes. Among physicians, sometimes the term medical therapy refers specifically to pharmacotherapy as opposed to surgical or other therapy; for example, in oncology, medical oncology is thus distinguished from surgical oncology.
Pharmacists are experts in pharmacotherapy and are responsible for ensuring the safe, appropriate, and economical use of pharmaceutical drugs. The skills required to function as a pharmacist require knowledge, training and experience in biomedical, pharmaceutical and clinical sciences. Pharmacology is the science that aims to continually improve pharmacotherapy. The pharmaceutical industry and academia use basic science, applied science, and translational science to create new pharmaceutical drugs.
As pharmacotherapy specialists, pharmacists have responsibility for direct patient care, often functioning as a member of a multidisciplinary team, and acting as the primary source of drug-related information for other healthcare professionals. A pharmacotherapy specialist is an individual who is specialized in administering and prescribing medication, and requires extensive academic knowledge in pharmacotherapy.
In the US, a pharmacist can gain Board Certification in the area of pharmacotherapy upon fulfilling eligibility requirements and passing a certification examination.
While pharmacists provide valuable information about medications for patients and healthcare professionals, they are not typically considered covered pharmacotherapy providers by insurance companies.