Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Introduction to Pharmacology

Pharmacology can seem a bit daunting, but if you know the difference between paracetamol and ibuprofen, you're basically there! (we joke, but seriously).

In Phase I, pharmacology is an extensive theme that is injected regularly into lectures. To make this pill easier to swallow, there are limits to what you're expected to know by the end of the year.

What you don’t need to know for Phase I

  • Doses (but if you want to get ahead, 500mg of paracetamol x2 orally, maximum 4 times a day)
  • Brand names (for the super keen: co-codamol contains BOTH paracetamol and codeine!)
  • Other quantitative information such as % bound to protein

What you do need to learn in Phase I
You will receive a Phase I Drugs List from which you can direct your learning. From this, you will need to know the generic names on the drugs list, the class the drug falls under, and their mechanism of action at a molecular/cellular/tissue level.

As an example, we can look at furosemide which is on your drugs list. The level of detail you need to know is the name, that it’s a loop diuretic, and that it acts on Na+/K+/2Cl- transporters in the kidneys’ nephrons (specifically in the ascending Loop of Henle).

A couple more examples:

  • Amoxicillin is a penicillin-class antibiotic which interferes with bacterial cell wall synthesis by inhibiting cross-linking of peptidoglycans.
  • Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor that inhibits the H+/K+/ATPase transporter of parietal cells in the stomach to reduce acid secretion into the gastric lumen.

For things such as drug side effects and drug interactions, this is a potentially huge topic. However, for Phase I you will only need to know specific examples (involving drugs from the Phase I Drugs List) and these will be indicated in the relevant lectures.

Dan Mitchell should give you an introduction to pharmacology lecture which highlights everything you need to know surrounding what the body does to drugs, and what drugs do to the body, but ultimately it’s not a lot. There are also lectures in Block 1 describing details of how drugs are processed and metabolised in the body. The main thing you’ll need to do is the above memorising for each drug on the Phase I Drugs List.

Any questions, please feel free to contact Matt Kneale (