last authored: March 2010, David LaPierre
Medications are incredibly important components of health care, offering important cures in the case of many infections, extension of life in various acute and chronic conditions, relief of pain and suffering, and improvement of many other symptoms of chronic diseases. However, medications are not a perfect solution. In many countries, approximately 20% of health care costs go to drugs (CIHI, 2008). Drug-drug interactions are common, and adverse drug reactions are a leading cause of emergency room visits, disabilty, and death.
Given their cost and potential harm, drugs should be prescribed and used carefully, with risk vs benefit considerations and clear descriptions on proper medication use.
The following is an overview of common and important medications.
Drugs can be classified according to many different factors. Pharmacotherapeutic classes refer to the clinical condition, while pharmacologic classes are based on a drug's molecular mechanism of action and the body system affected. A hybrid approach has been taken with the above list.
created by Robert King
The term 'drug' can also refer to any biologically active compound that is taken with the intent to produce a change in the body. This more inclusive definition also includes:
b) biomolecules such as vitamins, amino acids, and minerals
c) 'natural health products' such as ecinacea and St John's Wort; and even d) cosmetics.
In some sense, the distinctions between a product sold by a pharmaceutical company and a vitamin fall to regulation and patents.
While relative risk reduction (RRR) tends to remain constant across populations, the absolute risk reduction (ARR) can change with changing risks. As ARR increases, the number needed to treat decreases.
Compliance is affected by a number of factors
There are a number of innovative aproaches to medication adherence:
Drugs can be given orally, intravenously, transdermally, intramuscularly.
The vehicle is the base of medication.
fingertip units (FTUs): about 0.5 gram, enough to cover both sides of one hand. Body takes ~20 g to cover it all, except scalp.
The active agent is the drug used.
Adjuvants are chemicals added to stabilize active agents.
A general rule: if it is dry, wet it. If it is wet, dry it.
Depots can be useful for compliance, ie for antipsychotics