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Chapter1: Orientation to Pharmacology
A. Basic terms
a. Drug
any chemical that can affect living process
the study of drugs and their interaction with living systems
c. Clinical pharmacology
the study of drugs in humans
d. Therapeutics- AKA pharmacotherapeutics
The use of drugs to diagnose, prevent, or treat disease or prevent pregnancy
Properties of an Ideal Drug
a. Effectiveness- the most important property. An effective drug is one that elicits the responses for which it is given.
b. Safety- a safe drug is one that cannot produce harmful effect
Adverse effect
1. Certain drugs can increase the risk of infection (eg. cyclophosphamide, methotrexate)
2. Opioid analgesics at high doses can cause respiratory depression (eg. Morphine)
3. Aspirin and other related drugs can cause severe gastric ulceration, perforation, and bleeding when
taken for prolong periods of time.
c. Selectivity- a drug that elicits only the response for which it is given
Additional Properties of an Ideal Drug
a. Reversible action
effects must be reversible. Drug action must subside within an appropriate time
b. Predictability
tailor drug to individual to elicit the desired response
c. Ease of administration
should be simple to administer. Will enhance patient adherence and reduce risk
d. Freedom from drug interaction
interaction of drugs may be positive or negative
e. Low cost
an ideal drug is easy to afford
f. Chemical stability
an ideal drug would retain its activity indefinitely. Some drug loses their effectiveness over time
g. Simple generic name
an ideal drug should have a generic name that is easy to recall or pronounce
The therapeutic Objective of Drug Therapy
a. To provide the maximum benefit with minimum harm
Factors the Determine the Intensity of Drug Response
a. Administration
Dosage size, route, timing
Med errors
Patient adherence
b. Pharmacokinetics
Determining how much of the
administered dose gets to its sites
of action
The impact of the body on drugs
1. Drug absorption
2. Drug distribution
3. Drug metabolism
4. Drug excretion
c. Pharmacodynamic
Impact of drugs on the body
Drug-receptor interaction
1. Binding of the drug to its receptors
Patient’s functional state
1. Influences pharmacodynamic processes
Placebo effects
1. Helps determine the Reponses a drug elicits
d. Sources of individual variation
Physiological variables
1. Age, gender, weight
Pathologic variables
1. Diminished function of kidneys and liver
Genetic variables
1. Can alter the metabolism of drugs and predispose the patient to unique interactions
Drug interactions
Chapter 2: Applications of Pharmacology in Nursing Practice
A. Evolution of Nursing Responsibility regarding drugs
a. Right drug
b. Right patient
c. Right dose
d. Right time
e. Right assessment
f. Right documentation
g. Right evaluation
h. Right of patient to education
i. Right of patient to refuse care
B. Evolution of Nursing Responsibilities Regarding Drugs
a. Correct administration, without addition interventions, cannot ensure that treatment will result in the therapeutic
b. Proper delivery is only the beginning of a nurse’s responsibility
c. Nurses and healthcare providers must participate in a system of checks and balances designed to promote beneficial
effects and to minimize hard to patients
d. The nurse must know what meds are appropriate for the patient and what drugs are contraindicated for the patient
e. The nurse must know the probable consequences of the interactions between the drug and the patient
f. The nurse’s role as an advocate
i. Last line of defense for the patient
ii. Ethically and legally unacceptable to administer a drug that is harmful to the patient, even though the
medication has been prescribed by a licensed prescriber and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist
C. Application of Pharmacology in Patient Care
a. Preadministration assessment
i. Collecting baseline data
1. To evaluate the therapeutic response and adverse effects
ii. Identifying high-risk patients
1. Predisposing factors such as liver and kidney impairment
2. Genetic factors
3. Drug allergies
4. Pregnancy
5. Older adults or pediatric age group
iii. Tools: patient history, physical exam and lab results
b. Dosage and administration
i. Certain drugs have more than one indication
ii. The dosage may differ for which the drug is being used
iii. Many drugs can be administered by more than one route
iv. The dosage may differ depending on the route selected
v. Certain IV agents can cause severe local injury of extravasation occurs
vi. Read medication order carefully
vii. Verify the identity of the patient
viii. Read the med label carefully
ix. Verify dosage calculations
x. Implement any special handling that the drug may require
xi. Do not administer any drug if you do not understand the reason for its use
c. Evaluating and promoting therapeutic effects
i. Evaluating therapeutic responses
1. One of the most important aspects of drug therapy
2. The know the rationale for treatment and the nature and time course of the intended response
3. Cannot effectively evaluate a drug with multiple application if the intended use is not known
ii. Promoting patient adherence
1. Also known as compliance or concordance
2. Extent to which a patient’s behavior coincides with medical advice
iii. Implementing nondrug measures
1. Drugs therapy can often ne enhanced by nondrug measures
2. These include biofeedback, emotional support, smoking cessation, sodium restriction and so on
d. Minimizing adverse interactions
i. All drugs have the potential to produce undesired effects
ii. Always know the following:
1. The major adverse effects that the drug can produce
2. The times when these reactions are likely to occur
3. Early signs that can adverse reaction is developing
4. Interventions that can minimize discomfort and harm
iii. Take a thorough drug history
iv. Advise the patient to avoid OTC drugs that can interact with the prescribed medication
v. Monitor for adverse interactions that are known to occur
vi. Be alert for as-yet-unknown interactions
e. Making PRN decisions
i. PRN: pro re nata; “as needed”
ii. The nurse has discretion regarding how much drug to give and when to give it
iii. Know the reason for the drug’s use
iv. Be able to assess the patient’s medication needs
f. Managing toxicity
i. Early identification makes early intervention possible
ii. Know the early signs of toxicity
iii. Know the procedure for toxicity management
D. Application of Pharmacology in Patient Education
a. Drug name and therapeutic category
b. Dosage size
c. Dosing schedule
d. Route and technique of administration
e. Expected therapeutic response and when it should develop
f. Nondrug measures to enhance therapeutic response
g. Duration of treatment
h. Method of drug storage
i. Symptoms of major adverse effects and measures to minimize discomfort and harm
j. Major adverse drug-drug and drug-food interactions
k. Whom to contact in the event of therapeutic failure, severe adverse reactions, or severe adverse interactions
l. Give the patient the following info:
i. Name of drug
ii. Dosage and schedule of administration
iii. Technique of administration
iv. Duration of drug use
v. Storage of drugs
m. Promoting therapeutic effects
i. Nature and time course of expected beneficial effects
ii. Recognizing treatment failure; allow for timely alternative therapy implementation
n. Minimizing adverse effects
i. Insulin OD
ii. Anticancer and infection
iii. Some side effects are benign but disturbing, esp. if they are unknow to the patient
o. Minimizing Adverse Interactions
i. Educate the patient about hazardous drug-drug and drug-food interactions
1. Ex: Phenelzine and it interactions with amphetamines (drugs) and figs (food)
E. Application of the Nursing Process in Drug Therapy
a. The nursing process is a conceptual framework that nurses employ to guide healthcare delivery.
b. Assessment
i. Collecting data to identify actual and potential health problems
1. Patient interview, medical and drug use history, physical examination, observation and lab test.
c. Analysis: Nursing diagnoses
i. Analyzing information collected to determine actual and potential health problems
ii. A complete nursing diagnosis consist of the following
1. Statement of the patient actual or potential health problems
2. Statement of the problem’s probably cause or risk
3. Signs, symptoms or evidence of the problem
d. Planning
i. Outline specific interventions directed at solving or preventing the problems identified in analysis.
ii. Plan is individualized
iii. Nurse defines goals, set priorities, identify nursing interventions, and establish a criteria for evaluating
iv. Ongoing process
e. Implementation (Intervention)
i. Carrying out the interventions identified during planning
ii. Interventions are independent or collaborative
f. Evaluation
i. Determining the degree to which the treatment has succeeded
ii. Identifying interventions that should be continued, discontinued or new interventions that may need to be
Applying the Nursing Process in Drug Therapy
a. Preadministration assessment
i. Collection of baseline data to evaluate therapeutic effects
ii. Collection of baseline data to evaluate adverse effects
iii. Identification of high-risk patients
1. Factors that might increase risks of adverse reaction include age, body composition, pregnancy,
diet, genetics and other drugs being used.
2. Distinguish between contraindication and precaution
a. Contraindication is a condition that prohibits use of a particular drug under all but the
most critical of circumstances
b. A precaution is a condition that significantly increases the risk of an adverse reaction but
is not life threatening
iv. Assessment of the patient’s capacity for self-care
b. Analysis and nursing diagnosis
i. Judge the appropriateness of the prescribes regimen
ii. Identify potential health problems that the drug might cause
iii. Determine the patient’s capacity for selfcare
c. Planning
i. Defining goals
1. Formulating ways to achieve goals
ii. Setting priorities
1. Highest priority given to life-threatening conditions
iii. Identifying specific interventions
1. Drug administration
2. Interventions to enhance therapeutic effects
a. E.g. After administration of pain meds, turn the lights off so patient can relax
3. Interventions to minimize adverse effects
4. Patient education
iv. Establishing objective criteria for evaluation
d. Implementation
i. Drug administration
ii. Patient education
iii. Interventions to promote therapeutic effects
iv. Interventions to minimize adverse effects
e. Evaluation
i. Therapeutic responses
ii. Adverse drug reactions and interactions
iii. Adherence to prescribed regimen
iv. Satisfaction with treatment
Chapter 3: Drug Regulation, Development, Names, and Information
A. Landmark drug legislation
a. Federal pure Food and Drug Act, 1906
i. Set standards for drug quality, purity and strength
ii. Product labeling
b. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 1938
i. First to regulate drug safety
Harris-Kefauver Amendments, 1962
i. First to demand that drugs actually be of some benefit
d. Controlled Substances Act, 1970
i. Set rules for the manufacture and distribution of drugs considered to have potential for abuse
e. Permission for accelerated drug approval 1992
i. Drugs can be approved for marketing before completion of Phase III trials
f. Prescription Drug user Fee Act, 1992
i. Drug sponsors pay the FDA a fee to review drug in a timely fashion
g. Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act, 1997
i. Widespread changes in the FDA regulation
h. Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, 2002
i. Promote research on drug efficacy and safety in children
i. Pediatric Research Equity Act, 2003
i. Promote research on drug efficacy and safety in children
j. FDA Amendments Acts, 2007
i. Rigorous oversight of drug safety after it has been released for marketing
k. Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, 2009
i. Allows the FDA to regulate cigarettes
B. New drug development
a. Randomized controlled trials
i. Use of controls
1. Subjects in the RCT either given the new drug or either a standard treatment or a placebo (control)
ii. Randomization
1. subjects are randomly assigned to a control group or the experimental group
iii. Blinding – participants do not know if they are getting the real drug
b. Preclinical testing
c. Clinical testing
i. Phase I
1. Small number of healthy volunteers. Some get placebo
ii. Phase II and III
1. Tested in patients to determine therapeutic effects, dosage range, safety and effectiveness
2. 500-5000 patients receive the drug
iii. Phase IV: Post marketing surveillance
1. New drug is released for general use
2. Observing effects in a large population
d. Limited information about the majority of people
i. women over 60 yrs. are not tested
ii. small children are not tested
e. Failure to detect adverse effects
i. During clinical trials only a small number of patients are given the drug
ii. These patients are carefully selected and do not represent the full spectrum of individuals who will
eventually take the drug
iii. Patients in the trials only take the drug for a short while
f. Exercising discretion regarding new drug
i. Be neither the first to adopt the new nor the last to
abandon the old
ii. Balance potential benefits against inherent risk
iii. New drugs generally present greater risk than old
C. Drug names
a. Chemical Name
i. Description of the drug using the nomenclature of
b. Generic Name
i. Name assigned by the United States Adopted Names
ii. Each drug has only one generic name
iii. The nonproprietary name
1. Less complex than chemical name
iv. Stick to generic name!
c. Brand name
i. Name under which the drug is markets
ii. The proprietary name or trade name
iii. Must be approved by the FDA
iv. Problem with trade name
1. Single drug can have multiple trade names
2. U.S. drugs and from outside of the US may have different active ingredients
3. Products with the same trade name may have different active ingredients
a. Ex. Kaopectate
D. Over-the-counter drugs
a. Drugs that can be purchased without a Rx
b. Americans spend about 20 billion annually on OTC drugs
c. OTC drugs account for 60% of all doses administered
d. 40% of Americans take at least one OTC drug every 2 days
e. Four times as many illnesses are treated by a consumer using an OTC drug as by a consumer visiting a physician
f. For most illnesses (60%-95%), initial therapy consists of self-care, including self-care medication with an OTC drug
E. Sources of drug information
a. Clinicians and pharmacists
b. Poison control centers
c. Pharmaceutical sales rep
Chapter 4: Pharmacokinetics
A. Pharmacokinetics
a. Pharmacokinetics is derived from two Greek words: pharmakon (drug or poison) and kinetics (motion)
b. Pharmacokinetics is the study of drug movement throughout the body
c. Also includes drug metabolism and drug excretion
B. Application of pharmacokinetics in therapeutics
a. can help maximize beneficial effects and minimize harm
C. The four basic pharmacokinetic processes
Figure 1 The four basic Pharmacokinetic processes
D. Passage of drugs across the cell membrane
a. The cell of most membranes is so close to one another that drugs must pass through rather than pass between them
b. The cytoplasmic membrane consists of a double layer of molecules known as phospholipids
i. Phospholipids are simple lipids (fat) that contain an atom of phosphate
ii. Each phospholipid molecule consists of a head (phosphate-containing component) and two tails (long chain
iii. Large protein molecules may be embedded in the membrane
c. There are three ways to cross the cell membrane
i. Channels and Pores
1. Channels are extremely small and only small compounds such as potassium and sodium can pass
through the channels
ii. Transport system (P-glycoprotein)
1. P-glycoproteins are transmembrane protein that transport a wide variety pf drugs out of cells
2. In the liver PGP transport drugs into the bile for elimination
In the kidney PGP pumps drugs back into
the urine for excretion
4. In the placenta it transports drugs back into
the maternal blood
5. In the brain it pumps drugs into the blood,
limiting the drug’s access to the brain
iii. Direct penetration (most common)
1. For most drugs, movement throughout the
body is dependent on the drugs ability to
penetrate membranes directly
2. Most drugs are too large to pass through
channels or pored
3. Most drugs lack transport systems to help
Figure 2 The structure of the cell membrane
them cross all of the membranes that separate them from their sites of action, metabolism and
4. Like dissolve like
a. Cell membranes are composed primarily of lipids; therefore, to directly penetrate the
membrane, a drug must be lipid soluble (lipophilic)
d. Passage of Non-Lipophilic Molecules Across the membranes
i. Polar molecules
1. Uneven distribution of charge
2. No net charge
ii. Ions
1. No net electric charge
2. Quaternary ammonium compounds
a. Molecules that contain at least one atom of nitrogen and carry a positive charge at all
b. Carries a positive charge. Not lipid soluble and cannot cross the BBB
3. pH-dependent ionization
a. acid is a proton donor -tends to ionize in basic (alkaline) media
b. base is a proton acceptor- tends to ionize in acidic media
c. not lipid soluble and therefore cannot cross the BBB
4. Ion trapping (pH partitioning)
a. Acidic drugs accumulate on alkaline side
b. Basic drugs accumulate on acidic side
c. The process where a drug accumulates on the side of a membrane where the pH most
favors it ionization
E. Absorption
a. The movement of a drug from its site of administration into the blood
b. The rate of absorption determines how soon effects will begin. The amount of absorption helps determine how
intense the effects will be
c. Factors Affecting Drug Absorption
i. Rate of dissolution
1. Rapid dissolution has a faster onset than drugs formulated for a slow dissolution
ii. Surface area
1. The larger the surface area the faster the absorption
a. Orally administered drug is usually absorbed in the small intestines rather than the
iii. Blood flow
1. Drugs are most rapidly absorbed from sites where blood flow is high.
2. The greater the concentration gradient the more rapidly absorption will be
iv. Lipid solubility
1. Highly lipid-soluble drugs are absorbed more rapidly than drugs whose lipid solubility is low
2. Lipid soluble drugs can easily cross the cell membrane
v. pH partitioning
1. absorption is enhanced when the difference between the pH of plasma and the pH at the site of
administration is such that the molecules will have a greater tendency to be ionized in the plasma
d. Characteristics of Commonly Used Routes of Administration
i. Intravenous
1. Barriers to absorption
a. No barriers to absorption
2. Absorption pattern
a. Instantaneous
a. Rapid onset, ideal for emergencies
b. Precise control over the amount of drug
c. Suitability for large volumes
d. Suitability for irritant drugs
4. Disadvantages
a. Expensive
b. Irreversible
c. Inconvenient
d. Risk of fluid overload, infection and embolism
ii. Intramuscular
1. Barriers to absorption
a. The only barrier to
absorption is the capillary
b. Large gaps between the
cells that comprise the
capillary wall.
c. Drugs and other molecules
can freely move in and out
of the blood through these
d. Lipid soluble drugs can
also pass freely through
the cell of the capillary
Figure 3 Drug movement at capillary beds
2. Absorption pattern
a. Rapid with water soluble drugs
b. Slow with poorly soluble drugs
3. Advantages
a. Permits use of poorly soluble drugs
b. Permits use of depot preparations
a. Drug is absorbed slowly over an extended time
4. Disadvantages
a. Possible discomfort
b. Inconvenience
c. Potential for injury
iii. Subcutaneous
1. Barriers to absorption
a. The only barrier to absorption is the capillary wall
2. Absorption pattern
a. Rapid with water soluble drugs
b. Slow with poorly soluble drugs
3. Advantages
a. Permits use of poorly soluble drugs
b. Permits use of depot preparations
a. Drug is absorbed slowly over an extended time
4. Disadvantages
a. Possible discomfort
b. Inconvenience
c. Potential for injury
iv. Oral
1. Barriers to absorption
a. Must cross the epithelial lining of the GI tract and the capillary wall
2. Absorption pattern
a. Slow and variable
a. Ease
b. Convenient
c. Inexpensive
d. Safety
a. High variability
b. Inactivation by gastric acid
and digestive enzymes
c. Oral drug must pass through
the liver before reaching
general circulation
a. Enteric-coated oral
drugs are designed to
release their contents
into the small
intestine not in the
Figure 4 Movement of drug foll. GI absorption
b. Sustained-released formulation are designed to release their content slowing
permitting longer intervals between doses
a. The drug movement from the blood to the interstitial space of the tissues and from there into the cells
b. Distribution is determined by three factors:
i. Blood flow to tissues
1. Drugs are carried by the blood to tissues and organs of the body
2. Blood flow determines the rate of delivery
3. Abscesses and tumors
a. Low regional blood flow affects therapy
b. Pus-filled pockets rather than internal blood vessels
c. Solid tumors have limited blood supply
ii. Exiting the vascular system
1. After delivery to the organ or tissue via blood, it exists the vascular
2. Drugs pass between capillary cells rather than through them
3. Blood-Brain Barrier
a. Tight junctions between the cells that comprise the walls of
most capillaries in the CNS
b. Because of the BBB drugs must pass through the cells of the
capillary wall
c. Only drugs that are lipid soluble or that have a transport
system can cross the BBB to a significant degree
4. Placental Drug Transfer
a. Membranes of the placenta do NOT constitute an absolute
barrier to the passage of drugs
i. Movement is determined in the same way as it is for
other membranes
Figure 5 drug movement across the BBB
a. Birth defects: Mental retardation, gross malformations, low
birth weigh
b. Mother’s use of habitual opioids: Birth of drug-dependent
6. To enter the fetal circulation, drugs must cross membrane of the
maternal and fetal vascular systems
a. Lipid soluble drugs can readily cross these membranes and
enter the fetal blood, whereas ions and polar molecules cannot
reach the fetal blood
7. Protein Binding
a. Drugs form reversible bonds with various proteins
b. Plasma albumin is the most abundant and important protein
i. Large molecule that always remains in the
Figure 6 Placental Drug Transfer
ii. Affecting drug distribution
iii. Entering cells
1. Some drugs must enter cells to reach the
site of action
2. Most drugs must enter cells to undergo
metabolism and excretion
3. Many drugs produce their affects by
binding with receptors on the external
surface of the cell membrane
a. These do not need to cross the
cell membrane to act
G. Drug Metabolism
a. Also known as biotransformation
b. The enzymatic alteration of drug structure
c. Takes place in the liver
d. Hepatic drug-metabolizing enzymes
i. Most drug metabolism that takes place in liver is
Figure 7 Protein binding of drugs
performs by the hepatic microsomal enzyme
system, which is also known as the P450 system
ii. Metabolism does not always result in a smaller molecule
e. Therapeutic consequences of drug metabolism
i. Accelerated renal drug excretion
ii. Drug inactivation
iii. Increased therapeutic action
iv. Activation of prodrugs
v. Increased or decreased toxicity
f. Special consideration in drug metabolism
i. Age
ii. Induction of drug-metabolizing enzymes
iii. First-pass effect
iv. Competition among drugs
g. Enterohepatic Recirculation
i. Repeating cycle in which drug is transported
1. From the liver into the duodenum via the bile duct
2. Back to the liver via the portal blood
ii. Limited to drugs that have undergone glucuronidation
H. Excretion
a. Defined as the removal of drugs from the body
b. Drugs and their metabolites can exist the though urine, sweat, saliva,
breast milk or expired air
c. Steps in renal drug excretion
i. Glomerular filtration
ii. Passive tubular reabsorption
iii. Active tubular secretion
d. Factors that modify renal drug excretion
i. pH-dependent ionization
ii. competition for active tubular transport
iii. age
e. Nonrenal Routes of Drug excretion
i. Breast milk
ii. Bile – Enterohepatic recirculation
iii. Lungs (anesthesia)
iv. Sweat/saliva
f. Time course of Drug Responses
i. Plasma drug levels
1. There is a direct correlation between therapeutic and
toxic responses and the amount of drug present in
the plasma
2. Two plasma drug levels
a. Minimum effective concentration MEC
a. Plasma drug level below which
Figure 8 Renal drug excretion
therapeutic effects will not occur
Toxic concentration
a. When plasma drug climb too high
3. Therapeutic range
a. The objective of drug dosing is to maintain plasma drug levels within the therapeutic
ii. Single-dose time course
1. The duration of effects is determined largely by the combination of metabolism and excretion
2. For drug levels above the minimum effective dose, the therapeutic response will be maintained
iii. Drug half-life
1. The time required for the amount of drug in the body to decrease by 50%
2. Percentage and not the amount of drug lost in a half-life
3. Determines dosing interval
iv. Drug levels produced with repeated doses
1. Process by which plateau drugs levels are achieved
2. When drugs are administered repeatedly, their levels will gradually rise to reach a steady plateau
3. Plateau will be reached in about four half-lives
4. The time required to reach plateau us independent of dosage size, although the height of the
plateau will be higher with larger doses
5. Fluctuations can be reduced by
a. Giving a smaller dose at shorter intervals
b. Using continuous infusions
c. Using depot preparation
6. For a drug with a long half-life, it may be necessary to use a loading dose (large initial dose) to
achieve plateau quickly
7. Plateau is maintained by giving smaller doses (maintenance doses )
8. When a drug administered is discontinued, 94% of the drug in the body will be eliminated over an
interval of about four half lives.