Fundamentals of Pharmacology: Key Terms

Agents naturally produced in aniamal cells, by microorganisms, or by the body itself. (hormones, monoclonal antibodies, natural blood products and components, interferons, and vaccines)

clinical investigation
The second stage of drug testing

clinical phase trials
The longest part of the drug approval process.

complementary and alternative therapies
Natural plant extracts, herbs, vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements, and many techniques considered by some to be unconventional. (acupuncture, hypnosis, biofeedback, and massage)

Chemical agent capable of producing biologic responses within the body. (Therapeutic/adverse)

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
1988-officially established as an agency of the US department of health and human services. Approval required before marketing a drug.

FDA’s Critical Path Initiative
Effort to modernize the sciences to enhance the use of bioinformation to improve the “safety, effectiveness, and manufacturalbility of candidate medical products”

The first standard commonly used by pharmacists, or list of drugs and drug recipes.

Investigational New Drug Application (IND)
Phase I clinical trials when it is determined there are significant therapeutic benefits, and the product is reasonably safe for initial use in humans (HIV-positive patients)

After a drug is administered

NDA review
Third stage of the drug approval process, drug’s brand name is finalized.

derived from two Greek words, pharmakon, meaning medicine and logos, meaning study=study of medicine

medical reference summarizing standards of drug purity, strength, and directions for synthesis.

application of drugs for the purpose of disease prevention and the treatment of suffering

postmarketing surveillance
Final stage of the drug approval process, begins after clinical trials and the NDA review have been completed

preclinical investigation
first stage of drug testing that involves extensive lab research. Scientists perform many tests on human and microbial cells cultured in the lab.Studies are performed in several species of animals to examine the drugs effectiveness at different doses and to look for adverse effects

the branch of medicine concerned with the treatment of disease and suffering

a measure of the extent of drug absorption for a given drug and route (from 0% to 100%)

chemical name
The name that describes the chemical composition and molecular structure of a drug.

combination drug
Contains more than one active generic ingredient

controlled substance
a drug or chemical substance whose possession and use are controlled by law

being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (especially alcohol or narcotic drugs)

generic name
The name given to a drug by the United States Adopted Names Council. Also called the nonproprietary name. The generic name is much shorter and simpler than the chemical name and is not protected by trademark.

mechanism of action
how a drug produces its effect in the body

pharmacologic classification
refers to the way an agent works at the molecular, tissue, and body system level

prototype drug
Well-understood model drug with which other drugs in a pharmacologic class may be compared.

scheduled drugs
In the United States, a term describing a drug placed into one of five categories based on its potential for misuse or abuse.

therapeutic classification
Method for organizing drugs on the basis of their clinical usefulness.

trade name
brand or proprietary name

the discomfort and distress that follow discontinuing the use of an addictive drug

allergic reaction
Acquired hyperresponse of body defenses to a foreign substance (allergen).


apothecary system
Older system of measurement that uses drams; rarely used.

ASAP order
As soon as possible order that should be available for administration to the patient within 30 minutes of the written order.

astringent effect
Drops or spray used to shrink swollen mucous membranes, or to loosen secretions and facilitate drainage

buccal route
Administration of a tablet or capsule by placing it in the oral cavity between the gum and the cheek.

acting according to certain accepted standards

enteral route
Administration of drugs orally, and through nasogastric or gastrostomy tubes.

enteric coated
a substance that prevents tablet from being broken down in the stomach but allows disolving in the small intestine

five rights of drug administration
right patient, right drug, right dose, right time, right route

household system
older system of measurement that uses teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups

intradermal (ID)
injection into the dermis just under the epidermis

intramuscular (IM)
injection into a muscle

intravenous (IV)
Administration of medications and fluids directly into the bloodstream.

metric system of measurement
Most common system of drug measurement that uses grams and liters.

parenteral route
delivery of a medication outside of the gastrointestinal tract, typically using needles to inject medications into the circulatory system or tissues.

PRN order
as needed order, permits the nurse to give a medication when, in the nurse’s judgment, the client requires it

routine orders
order not written as STAT, ASAP, NOW, or PRN

single order
common medication order which “one-time order” is for medication to be given once at a specified time

standing order
A doctor’s order that remains in effect and is executed as ordered until the doctor discontinues or changes it

STAT order
a doctor’s order that is to be executed immediately, then automatically discontinued

beneath the skin

sublingual route
Administration of medication by placing it under the tongue and allowing it to dissolve slowly.

sustained release
Tablets or capsules designed to dissolve slowly over an extended time.

three checks of drug administration
In conjunction with the five rights, these ascertain patient safety and drug effectiveness.

passage of substances through membranes and into body fluids

an attraction to

blood-brain barrier
Blood vessels (capillaries) that selectively let certain substances enter the brain tissue and keep other substances out

Side chains that, during metabolism, make drugs more water soluble and more easily excreted by the kidney.

The term referring to where a drug goes after it enters the plasma.

drug-protein complex
Drug that has bound reversibly to a plasma protein, particularly albumin, that makes the drug unavailable for distribution to body tissues.

enterohepatic recirculation
recycling of drugs and other substances by the circulation of bile through the intestine and liver

enzyme induction
Process in which a drug changes the function of the hepatic microsomal enzymes and increases metabolic activity in the liver.

the process by which wastes are removed from the body

fetal-placental barrier
Special anatomical structure that inhibits entry of many chemicals and drugs to the fetus.

first-pass effect
the initial metabolism in the liver of a drug absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract before the drug reaches systemic circulation through the bloodstream

hepatic microsomal enzyme system
As it relates to pharmacotherapy, liver enzymes that inactivate drugs and accelerate their excretion; sometimes called the P-450 system.

loading dose
the initial large dose of a drug. A loading dose is given so that the concentration of the drug in the plasma reaches the therapeutic range quickly.

maintenance dose
the dose of drug that maintains or keeps the drug in the therapeutic range

biotransformation, the process of chemically converting a drug to a form that is usually more easily removed from the body.

minimum effective concentration
amount of drug required to produce a therapeutic effect

the study of the action of drugs in the body: method and rate of excretion

plasma half-life (t 1/2)
The length of time required for the plasma concentration of a drug to decrease by half after administration.

A substance that is inactive when it is given and is converted to an active form within the body

therapeutic range
the concentration of a drug in the blood serum that produces a desired effect w/out causing toxicity

toxic concentration
level of drug that will result in serious adverse effects

(biochemistry) a drug that can combine with a receptor on a cell to produce a physiological reaction

a drug that neutralizes or counteracts the effects of another drug

the ability to produce desired results

frequency distribution curve
Graphical representation that illustrates interpatient variability in responses to drugs.

graded dose-response
Relationship between and measurement of the patient’s response obtained at different doses of a drug.

idiosyncratic response
Unpredictable and unexplained drug reaction

median effective dose (ED 50)
Dose required to produce a specific therapeutic response in 50% of a group of patients.

median lethal dose (LD 50)
Often determined in preclinical trials, the dose of drug that will be lethal in 50% of a group of animals.

median toxicity dose (TD 50)
Dose that will produce a given toxicity in 50% of a group of patients.

nonspecific cellular responses
Drug action that is independent of cellular receptors and is not associated with other mechanisms, such as changing the permeability of cellular membranes, depressing membrane excitability, or altering the activity of cellular pumps.

partial agonist
Medication that produces a weaker, or less efficacious, response than an agonist.

What the drug does to the body

the branch of genetics that studies the genetically determined variations in responses to drugs in humans or laboratory organisms

capacity to produce strong physiological or chemical effects

the structural component of a cell to which a drug binds in a dose-related manner, to produce a response.

second messenger
cascade of biochemical events that initiates a drug’s action by either stimulating or inhibiting a normal activity of the cell.

therapeutic index
the ratio between the toxic and therapeutic concentrations of a drug

assessment phase
systematic collection, organization, validation, and documentation of patient data

baseline data
Patient information that is gathered before pharmacotherapy is implemented.

evaluation phase
Objective assessment of the effectiveness and impact of interventions.

any object or objective that the patient or nurse seeks to attain or achieve

implementation phase
When the nurse applies the knowledge, skills, and principles of nursing care to help move the patient toward the desired goal and optimal wellness.

nursing diagnoses
clinical judgments about a person’s response to an actual or potential health state

nursing process
systematic method in which the nurse and client work together to plan and carry out effective nursing care. (The steps include assessment, nursing diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation.)

objective data
information gathered through physical assessment, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic sources

states the behaviors that the patient will be able to perform rather than what the nurse will do.

planning phase
stage of the nursing process that links strategies or interventions to established goals and outcomes

subjective data
Things a person tells you about that you cannot observe through your senses; symptoms

medication administration record (MAR)
documentation of all pharmacotherapies received by the patient

medication error
Any preventable adverse drug event involving inappropriate medication use by a patient or health care professional; it may or may not cause the patient harm.

medication error index
an index that categorizes medication errors by evaluating the extent of harm an error can cause.

medication reconciliation
The process of keeping track of a patient’s medications as they proceed from one health care provider to another.

The taking of multiple drugs concurrently.

risk management
system of reducing medication errors by modifying policies and procedures within the institution.

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allergic reaction immune response related to prior exposure to the drug, re-exposure triggers an allergic response. Can range from mild itching to severe rash to anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening response characterized by broncho-spasm, laryngeal edema, and drop in BP …

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