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Astropharmacy: Pushing the boundaries of the pharmacists’ role for sustainable space exploration

Sawyers, Luke; Anderson, Claire; Boyd, Matthew J.; Hessel, Volker; Wotring, Virginia; Williams, Philip M.; Toh, Li Shean

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Luke Sawyers

Volker Hessel

Virginia Wotring


Background: Human physiology undergoes extensive changes in space potentially leading to alterations in the way a medication functions. Understanding the efficacy behind Pharmacological Countermeasures (PCMs) and deliverable pharmacy services is imperative for the future presence of humans in space. However, while the pharmacist plays an integral role for human health terrestrially, pharmacist input has been minimal for human health in the space sector. Here, we explore the pharmacist's potential role in larger medical teams for future missions. Objective: To explore pharmacy and space sector stakeholder perspectives regarding the pharmacist's role in the space sector. Methods: Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with pharmacy (n = 31) and human health-related space sector stakeholders (n = 26) across the globe from governmental, commercial, industry and academic sectors. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to identify stakeholders. Interviews and focus groups were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed. Results: Three themes - medication management, medication-related research and medication and health information - were generated. The importance of medication optimisation within commercial and federal spaceflight participant medication regimens was cited as necessary for sustainable space exploration. Both groups advocated for pharmacists' involvement with in-situ medication manufacturing and medication-related research, particularly regarding space-based pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic drug profiling. Other essential roles included the pharmacist's role in providing medication information to spaceflight participants and other healthcare professionals on their health status and medication use risk in the context of space. Conclusions: With the advancement of accessible, commercial space travel and humans becoming an inter-planetary species, the opportunity to tackle PCM needs via a more extensive and comprehensive collaborative effort between the space, medical and pharmacy sectors is essential for sustainable space exploration.


Sawyers, L., Anderson, C., Boyd, M. J., Hessel, V., Wotring, V., Williams, P. M., & Toh, L. S. (2022). Astropharmacy: Pushing the boundaries of the pharmacists’ role for sustainable space exploration. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 8, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 12, 2022
Publication Date Feb 12, 2022
Deposit Date Feb 14, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 13, 2023
Journal Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Print ISSN 1551-7411
Electronic ISSN 1934-8150
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Pharmaceutical Science; Pharmacy
Public URL
Publisher URL


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