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Chapter 1:

Introduction to Drugs

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Pharmacology
 Pharmacology is the study of the biological effects of
chemicals.
 Drugs are chemicals that are introduced into the body to
cause some sort of change.
 Health care providers focus on how chemicals act on
living organisms.
 Nurses deal with pharmacotherapeutics, or clinical
pharmacology.
 Some drug effects are therapeutic, or helpful, but others
are undesirable or potentially dangerous (adverse
effects)

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Nurse’s Responsibility
 Administering drug
 Assessing drug effects
 Intervening to make the drug regimen more tolerable
 Providing patient teachings about drugs and the drug
regimen
 Monitoring the overall patient care plan to prevent
medication errors

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Sources of Drugs #1
 Natural Sources
o Plants
 Synthetic version of the active chemical found in a
plant
 Main component of the growing alternative therapy
movement

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Drug examples : Plants

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Ricinus communis

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foxglove

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Poppy plant

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Sources of Drugs #2
 Natural Sources (cont.)
o Animal products
 Used to replace human chemicals that are not
produced because of disease or genetic problems
 Genetic engineering
 Many of these preparations are now created
synthetically

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Sources of Drugs #3
 Natural Sources (cont.)
o Inorganic compounds
 Salts of various elements can have therapeutic
effects in the human body
 Synthetic Sources
o Genetic engineering alter bacteria to produce
chemicals that are therapeutic and effective
o Original prototypes

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Drug examples : Inorganic

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Drug Evaluation
 Preclinical Trials
o Chemicals tested on laboratory animals
 Phase I Studies
o Chemicals tested on human volunteers
 Phase II Studies
o Drug tried on informed patients with the disease
 Phase III Studies
o Drug used in vast clinical market
 Phase IV Studies
o Continual evaluation of the drug

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Question #1
Tell whether the following statement is true or false.

Groups of similar drugs, all of which are derived from an


original prototype, are available today because of
technological advances that make a particular drug more
desirable in a specific situation.

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Answer to Question #1

True

Rationale: These technological advances have led to the


development of groups of similar drugs, all of which are
derived from an original prototype, but each of which has
slightly different properties, making a particular drug more
desirable in a specific situation.

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Legislation

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Pregnancy Categories

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Controlled Substances #1
 The Controlled Substances Act of 1970
o Control over the coding of drugs and the
enforcement of these codes to the FDA and the Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA), a part of the U.S.
Department of Justice.
 Prescription, distribution, storage, and use of these
drugs are closely monitored.
 Local policies and procedures might be even more
rigorous.

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Controlled Substances #2

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Generic Drugs
 Chemicals that are produced by companies involved
solely in the manufacturing of drugs
 Bioavailability of the drug
 “Dispensed as written”
o Important in drugs that have narrow safety margins

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Orphan Drugs
 Drugs that have been discovered, but are not financially
viable and therefore have not been “adopted” by any
drug company
 The Orphan Drug Act of 1983

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Over-the-Counter Drugs #1
 Products that are available without prescription for self-
treatment of a variety of complaints.
o Some of these agents were approved as prescription
drugs.
o Later were found to be very safe and useful for
patients (example: loratidine).
o Many of these drugs were “grandfathered.”

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Over-the-Counter Drugs #2

 Nurses should consider several problems related to OTC


drug use:
o Taking these drugs could mask the signs and
symptoms of underlying disease, making diagnosis
difficult.
o Taking these drugs with prescription medications
could result in drug interactions and interfere with
drug therapy.
o Not taking these drugs as directed could result in
serious overdoses.

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Sources of Drug Information #1
 Drug Label
o Drug labels have specific information that identifies a
specific drug
o Understanding how to read a drug label is essential
 Package Insert
o Prepared by the manufacturer
o Contains all of the chemical and study information
that led to the drug’s approval
o Difficult to understand and read

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Sources of Drug Information #2
 Reference Books
o Physician’s Drug Reference (PDR)
o Drug Facts and Comparisons
o AMA Drug Evaluations
o Lippincott’s Nursing Drug Guide (LNDG)
 Journals
 Internet

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Question #2
Drug labels are a source of information. What information
might a drug label provide?
A. The manufactured date
B. The expiration date
C. When the patent expires
D. The binding properties of the drug

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Answer to Question #2
B. The expiration date
Rationale: Drug labels have specific information that
identifies a specific drug. For example, a drug label
identifies the brand and generic names for the drug, the
drug dosage, expiration date, and special drug warnings.
Some labels also indicate the route and dosage for
administration.

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