Prof. Marlise A dos Santos, PhD
InnovaSpace Advisory Board member, and Coordinator MicroG-PUCRS
Finding myself in Lisbon, Portugal one chilly February afternoon this year, and as a pharmacist, I was very interested to discover the presence of a Museum of Pharmacy (www.museudafarmacia.pt/) in the city. My husband Arno and I decided to pay it a visit and very much appreciated the history it presented of the evolution of pharmacological therapy, from antiquity to the present, through the use of medicinal plants and drugs from around the world, and especially from Portugal.
But even more of a wonderful and unexpected surprise at the end of our visit was the finding of a space pharmacy. As previously mentioned, I am a pharmacist by profession, however and quite unusually, space pharmacy has been one of the most important areas of my professional practice, a specialism in which I have conducted much research and presented the results of studies in scientific congresses around the world.
Space Pharmacy is one of those areas that remains with many mysteries and is little studied, either during space missions or land simulations. Whenever medications are prescribed for use in space, it is done so respecting the same dosage and interval of administration that would be used for terrestrial medicine. There are, however, a number of doubts as to how appropriate this might be, with many questions still left unanswered. Are there any differences in the absorption rate of drugs in an environment where the gravitational force is either reduced or even absent? How is the drug metabolism affected in microgravity? Are there changes in the drug excretion? Much more research is still needed to clarify these doubts and to ensure the best health outcomes for astronauts in space.
It was, however, wonderful to see that space pharmacy was being considered in this treasure of a museum, and the surprises did not stop there. Integrated into the museum nearby is a restaurant called Pharmacia with a quirky menu, where dishes and drinks creatively continue the pharmacy theme, such as cocktails named after medications and potions, walls decorated with pharmaceutical motifs, waiters wearing white lab coats, and the final bill presented to the customer inside a laboratory examination bottle. Should you also find yourself in Lisbon one day with a couple of hours to spare, I would certainly recommend the museum and restaurant, just one of the many wonderful experiences of the city of Lisbon.