December #108 : Pharm School - by David Gelman, MD

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Table of Contents

Detectable Rebels

Now See This

Editor's Letter-December 2004

Mailbox-December 2004

Down on the Pharma

Show and Tell

Pushing the Envelope

First, the Bad News


Faster Forward

Prince Valiant


Pregnant Pauses

Moonlighting Statins

They Soothe Tootsies, Don’t They?

Trouble in Mind

Pharm School

View from the Top

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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December 2004

Pharm School

by David Gelman, MD

If you take HIV meds, you’ll want to know how the drugs work—that’s pharmacology. But other pharma lingo can be tough to swallow. Some Rx-planations:


The crux of pharmacology: how a drug actually works in your system. Researchers investigate, for instance, how the drug’s molecular shape can affect its power.  


The study of how a medication is absorbed, processed and eventually eliminated by the body. Labs can determine a drug’s half-life (how long it takes for the body to excrete half of the drug) and its Cmax (the maximum concentration it reaches). These measures determine the size and frequency of an HIV med’s dosing.


Your genes can wildly alter the way a drug affects you (see “Meet Your Host,” POZ, November 2004). Pharmacogeneticists try to identify how different people respond to drugs (more side effects in one person, longer half-life in another) and probe their genes for the cause.

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