Skip to main content
Medicine LibreTexts

1.13: Glossary

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Absorption: The first stage of pharmacokinetics: medications enter the body and travel from site of administration into the body’s circulation.

    Adverse Effect: An unintended and potentially dangerous pharmacological effect that occurs when a medication is administered correctly.

    Affinity: The strength of binding between drug and receptor.

    Agonist: A drug that binds to a “receptor” and produces an effect.

    Antagonist: A molecule that prevents the action of other molecules, often by competing for a cellular receptor; opposite of agonist.

    Bioavailability: The presence of a drug in the blood stream after it is administered.

    Blood-Brain Barrier: A nearly impenetrable barricade that is built from a tightly woven mesh of capillaries cemented together to protect the brain from potentially dangerous substances such as poisons or viruses.

    Distribution: The second stage of pharmacokinetics; the process by which medication is distributed throughout the body.

    Dose-Response: As the dose of a drug increases, the response should also increase. The slope of the curve is characteristic of the particular drug-receptor interaction.

    Duration: The length of time that a medication is producing its desired therapeutic effect.

    Efficacy: The maximum effect of which the drug is capable.

    Excretion: The final stage of pharmacokinetics; the process whereby drug byproducts and metabolites are eliminated from the body.

    First Pass Effect: The inactivation of orally or enterally administered drugs in the liver and intestines.

    Mechanism of Action: How a medication works at a cellular level within the body.

    Metabolism: The breakdown of a drug molecule via enzymes in the liver (primarily) or intestines (secondarily).

    Onset: When a medication first begins to work and exerts a therapeutic effect.

    Peak: When the maximum concentration of a drug is in the bloodstream.

    Pharmacodynamics: The study of how drugs act at target sites of action in the body.

    Pharmacogenetics: The study of how a person’s genetic make-up affects their response to medicines.

    Pharmacokinetics: The study of how the body absorbs, distributes, metabolizes, and eliminates drugs.

    Pharmacology: The science dealing with actions of drugs on the body.

    Pharmacy: The science of the preparation of drugs.

    Potency: The drug dose required to produce a specific intensity of effect.

    Selectivity: A “selective” drug binds to a primary and predictable site creating one desired effect. A “non-selective” drug can bind to many different and unpredictable receptor sites with potential side effects.

    Side Effect: Effect of a drug, other than the desired effect, sometimes in an organ other than the target organ.

    Therapeutic Index: A quantitative measurement of the relative safety of a drug that compares the amount of drug that produces a therapeutic effect versus the amount of drug that produces a toxic effect. Medication with a large therapeutic index is safer than a medication with a small therapeutic index.

    Therapeutic Window: The dosing window in which the safest and most effective treatment will occur.

    This page titled 1.13: Glossary is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Ernstmeyer & Christman (Eds.) (OpenRN) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

    • Was this article helpful?