Pharmacokinetics studies are something that is used around a lot in the medical industry. But for the layman, it all seems like Greek and Latin. So, for the benefit of those, who aren’t from the medical industry, let us look into what it means, so that we know what all the fuss is about. Before we move onto the topic at hand, let us first trace its origins, which would no doubt, help us understand it a whole lot better.
Pharmacology is derived from Greek word, pharmakon, which in Modern Greek means "drug” and logia means "study of" or "knowledge of”. It is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function. If substances have medicinal properties, they are considered pharmaceuticals. The field encompasses drug composition and properties, interactions, toxicology, therapy, and medical applications and anti pathogenic capabilities.
There are a lot of different areas which encompass pharmacology as whole. The two main areas of are pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. The former studies the effects of the drugs on biological systems, and the latter the effects of biological systems on the drugs. In broad terms, pharmacodynamics discusses the interactions of chemicals with biological receptors, and pharmacokinetics studies discuss the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of chemicals from the biological systems. Pharmacokinetics studies may be simply defined as what the body does to the drug, as opposed to pharmacodynamics which may be defined as what the drug does to the body.
One thing that must be clearly acknowledged is the fact that pharmacology is not synonymous with pharmacy. Even though the two terms are frequently confused, they are in no way related. Pharmacology deals with how drugs interact within biological systems to affect function. It is the study of drugs, of the reactions of the body and drug on each other, the sources of drugs, their nature, and their properties. In contrast, pharmacy is a biomedical science concerned with application of the principals learned from pharmacology in its clinical settings; whether it is in a dispensing or clinical care role. In either field, the primary contrast between the two is their distinctions between direct-patient care, for pharmacy practice, and the science-oriented field, driven by pharmacology.
Pharmacokinetics studies is a branch of pharmacology dedicated to the determination of the fate of substances administered externally to a living organism. The substances of interest include pharmaceutical agents, hormones, nutrients, and toxins. Pharmacokinetics has a lot of definitions that are used around by those in the industry. In order to get the perfect idea about it, let us look at the one that is said to the most apt definition for it.
First and foremost, it is the study of the action of drugs within the body, which can, in many respects, be envisioned more accurately as the actions of the body on an administered drug. It includes studies of the mechanisms of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and onset of action, duration of effect, biotransformation and effects and routes of excretion of the metabolites of the drug. A concise and short definition of it is that, it is the study of the movement of drugs in the body, including the processes of absorption, distribution, localization in tissues, biotransformation and excretion.
Pharmacokinetics studies are often studied in conjunction with pharmacodynamics. Pharmacokinetics includes the study of the mechanisms of absorption and distribution of an administered drug, the rate at which a drug action begins and the duration of the effect, the chemical changes of the substance in the body and the effects and routes of excretion of the metabolites of the drug.
Pharmacokinetics studies are divided into several areas including the extent and rate of absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion. This is commonly referred to as the ADME scheme, which is nothing but Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion. Absorption is the process of a substance entering the blood circulation. Distribution is the dispersion of substances throughout the fluids and tissues of the body. Metabolism is the irreversible transformation of parent compounds into daughter metabolites. Excretion is the elimination of the substances from the body. In rare cases, some drugs irreversibly accumulate in body tissue.
Pharmacokinetics describes how the body affects a specific drug after administration. Pharmacokinetic properties of drugs may be affected by elements such as the site of administration and the dose of administered drug. These may affect the absorption rate. A fifth process, Liberation has been highlighted as playing an important role in pharmacokinetics. It is nothing but the process of release of drug from the formulation. Hence LADME may sometimes be used in place of ADME in reference to the core aspects of pharmacokinetics.
Hopefully, this insight into the world of Pharmacokinetics studies has shed some light on a topic, which was previously unknown to those outside the medical industry. A sneak peak into the history of Pharmacokinetics studies will have no doubt cemented its status as the field that is at the peak of its powers and on the verge of changing the world as we know it.
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