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Additive effects

Drug interactions in which the effect of a combination of two or more drugs with similar actions is equivalent to the sum of the individual effects of the same drugs given alone (1 + 1 = 2)

Adverse drug event

Any undesirable occurrence related to administering or failing to administer a prescribed medication

Adverse drug reaction

Any unexpected, unintended, undesired, or excessive response to a medication given at therapeutic dosages (as opposed to overdose)


A drug that binds to and stimulates the activity of one or more receptors in the body

Allergic reaction

An immunologic hypersensitivity reaction resulting from the unusual sensitivity of a patient to a particular medication; a type of adverse drug event


A drug that binds to and inhibits the activity of one or more receptors in the body; also called inhibitors

Antagonistic effects

Drug interactions in which the effect of a combination of two or more drugs is less than the sum of the individual effects of the same drugs given alone (1 + 1 = less than 2); it is usually caused by a blocking or reducing effect of one drug on another


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


One or more biochemical reactions involving a parent drug; occurs mainly in the liver and produces a metabolite that is either inactive or active; also known as metabolism

Blood-brain barrier

The barrier system that restricts the passage of various chemicals and microscopic entities (e.g., bacteria, viruses) between the bloodstream and the central nervous system; still allows for the passage of essential substances such as oxygen

Chemical name

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


Any condition, especially one related to a disease state or other patient characteristic, including current or recent drug therapy, that renders a particular form of treatment improper or undesirable

Cytochrome P-450

The general name for a large class of enzymes that play a significant role in drug metabolism


A state in which there is a compulsive or chronic need, as for a drug


The process by which solid forms of drugs disintegrate in the gastrointestinal tract and become soluble before being absorbed into the circulation


Any chemical that affects the physiologic processes of a living organism

Drug actions

The cellular processes involved in the interaction between a drug and body cells (e.g., how the drug works on a receptor protein); also called mechanism of action

Drug effects

The physiologic reactions of the body to a drug; can be therapeutic or toxic and describe how the function of the body is affected as a whole by the drug; terms onset, peak, and duration are used to describe these

Drug-induced teratogenesis

The development of congenital anomalies or defects in the developing fetus caused by the toxic effects of drugs

Drug interaction

Alteration in the pharmacologic activity of a given drug caused by the presence of one or more additional drugs; usually related to effects on the enzymes required for metabolism of the involved drugs

Duration of action

The length of time the concentration of a drug in the blood or tissues is sufficient to elicit a response


Protein molecules that catalyze one or more of a variety of biochemical reactions, including those related to the body's own physiologic processes as well as those related to drug metabolism

First-pass effect

The initial metabolism in the liver of a drug absorbed from the GI tract before the drug reaches systemic circulation through the bloodstream

Generic name

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


In pharmacokinetics, the time required for half of the administered dose of drug to be eliminated by the body, or the time it takes for the blood level of a drug to be reduced by 50%

Idiosyncratic reaction

An abnormal and unexpected response to a medication, other than an allergic reaction, that is peculiar to an individual patient


The characteristic that causes two parenteral drugs or solutions to undergo a reaction when mixed or given together that results in the chemical deterioration of at least one of the drugs


Within a join


Within a sheath (such as an injection into the subarachnoid space of the spinal cord)

Medication error

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

Medication use process

The prescribing, dispensing, and administering of medications, and the monitoring of their effects


A chemical form of a drug that is the product of one or more biochemical reactions involving the parent drug

Active metabolites

Metabolites that have pharmacologic activity of their own, even if the parent drug is inactive

Inactive metabolites

Metabolites that lack pharmacologic activity and are simply drug waste products awaiting excretion from the body

Onset of action

The time required for a drug to elicit a therapeutic response after dosing

Parent drug

The chemical form of a drug that is administered before it is metabolized by the body's biochemical reactions into its active or inactive metabolites

Peak effect

The time required for a drug to reach its maximum therapeutic response in the body

Peak level

The maximum concentration of a drug in the body after administration, usually measured in a blood sample for therapeutic drug monitoring


The science of preparing and dispensing drugs, including dosage form design


the study of the biochemical and physiologic interactions of drugs at their sites of activity; examines the physicochemical properties of drugs and their pharmacologic interactions with body receptors


The study of the influence of genetic factors on drug response, including the nature of genetic aberrations that result in the absence, overabundance, or insufficiency of drug-metabolizing enzymes


The study of drugs that are obtained from natural plant and animal sources


The rate of drug distribution among various body compartments after a drug has entered the body; includes the phases of absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of drugs


The broadest term for the study or science of drugs


The treatment of pathologic conditions through the use of drugs


An inactive drug dosage form that is converted to an active metabolite by various biochemical reactions once it is inside the body


A molecular structure within or on the outer surface of a cell; bind specific substances and one or more corresponding cellular effects occurs as a result of this interaction

Steady state

The physiologic state in which the amount of drug removed via elimination is equal to the amount of drug absorbed with each dose


Substances on which an enzyme acts

Synergistic effects

Drug interactions in which the effect of a combination of two or more drugs with similar actions is greater than the sum of the individual effects of the same drugs given alone (1 + 1 = >2)

Therapeutic drug monitoring

The process of measuring drug peak and trough levels to gauge the level of a patients drug exposure and allow adjustment of dosages with the goals of maximizing therapeutic effects and minimizing toxicity

Therapeutic effect

The desired or intended effect of a particular medication

Therapeutic index

The ration between the toxic and therapeutic concentrations of a drug


Reduced response to a drug after prolonged use


The quality of being poisonous


The condition of producing adverse bodily effects due to poisonous qualities


The study of poisons, including toxic drug effects, and applicable treatments

Trade name

The commercial name given to a drug product by its manufacturer; also called the proprietary name

Trough level

The lowest concentration of drug reached in the body after it falls from its peak level, usually measured in a blood sample for therapeutic drug monitoring

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