NSG-318: Introduction to Pharmacology.


Introduction to pharmacology.

NSG-318: Introduction to pharmacology course introduces basic principles of pharmacotherapy used in health promotion/maintenance and disease prevention for diverse populations across the life span. Moreover, it teaches students the principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacogenetics/genomics, and studies drug classifications and corresponding mechanisms of action, including pathophysiological effects. The use of the nursing process in developing a comprehensive approach to the clinical application of drug therapy is also discussed.

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NSG-318: Introduction to Pharmacology.

What is pharmacology?

Pharmacology is the study of drugs or chemicals and the effects they have on living animals. In short, pharmacology explains what drugs are, what they do to body functions, and what the body does to them. In addition, it also explains why a person may experience side effects when they take drugs and why there is such a wide range of differences between drug actions in different people.


What is a drug?

A drug is a chemical that interacts with proteins in the body to affect a physiological function. This is the general function of all medicine. Once a drug has been taken, the chemicals in the drug get absorbed into the systematic circulation and bind with certain proteins thus causing slight changes in the cell. These slight changes may cause side effects since no drugs are specific to interacting with just one type of cell or one type of protein.

The chemical in the drug that causes changes in physiological functioning is the active ingredient of the drug. For most drugs, the amount of chemicals needed to cause changes in physiological functioning is very small, often as small as 5 micrograms. Since giving these amounts of an expensive chemical will be wasteful, the drug is also comprised of inactive ingredients. These inactive ingredients work to fill the drug and have no effects on the functioning of cells. Examples of inactive ingredients in drugs include:

  • Lactose.
  • Gluten.
  • Dyes.

If the drug is taken orally, the inactive ingredients also help to bind the drug together and lubricate the drug so it is easy to swallow.

How do drugs work?

Our bodies are mainly controlled by proteins. These proteins exist in many different forms in the body and have many different functions. Moreover, each protein has a specific function and it is specific to the cell type it acts on.

Proteins are also drug targets. This means that in order for a drug to have an effect it needs to be bound to a protein. Therefore, if a drug is bound to a protein, it can have one or two main effects on a cell. These effects are:

  1. It can either produce a change in response (agonist) or
  2. It can stop the normal response of the cell (antagonist).

What are the effects of drugs on the body?

What is pharmacodynamics?

Pharmacodynamics is the study of what pharmaceutical products do to body systems once they are administered. The pharmacodynamics of a product will explain what effect they have on the body and consequently how they work to achieve the desired therapeutic response.

Therefore, once a drug is bound to a protein it exerts a therapeutic effect on the body.

What is pharmacokinetics?

Pharmacokinetics is the study of what happens to drugs once they enter the body.

Main stages of pharmacokinetics.
  1. The absorption of the drug into the blood and across all cell membranes to enter into the cells.
  2. After absorption, the drug is then distributed throughout the body.
  3. Once the drug has been distributed, it is then broken down (metabolism).
  4. The excretion of the drug in the body.


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