PAC2182 - Basis of drug action II - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Dr Paul White (Parkville)

Dr Tang Kim San (Malaysia)

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


This unit builds on the previous unit "Chemical Properties of Drug Molecules" to provide students with an understanding of the basis of drug action - efficacy. The consequences of drug binding to cell-surface receptors and enzymes will be considered at a structural level.

This will involve:

  • drug targets
  • receptor activation - efficacy and affinity
  • chemistry of drug-receptor interactions
  • newer / emerging drug classes - particularly "biologicals" - protein therapeutics
  • pharmacology in action - practical application of principles of affinity, efficacy and potency.


At the end of this unit students will be able to:

  1. List and describe in detail the categories of proteins with which drugs interact;
  2. List and explain the properties of a drug that determine its affinity, efficacy and potency;
  3. Describe the chemistry of drug-receptor interactions, and explain the properties of drug and receptor that determine binding and efficacy;
  4. Evaluate the interactions between drug and receptor that determine efficacy based on theoretical or empirical information;
  5. Calculate drug affinity, potency and efficacy based on model data, and make comparisons between drugs based on such data;
  6. Describe the mechanisms of action of several classes of emerging therapeutic classes;
  7. Effectively apply the principles of affinity, efficacy and potency to find solutions to problems associated with commonly used drugs;
  8. Based on laboratory experience within this unit, demonstrate a personal understanding of the biological evaluation of drug affinity, efficacy and potency.


Final exam (2 hours): 50%; workshop assessment: 30%; assignments: 20%.

Workload requirements

Contact hours for on-campus students:

  • Thirty 1-hour lectures
  • Two 3-hour tutorials
  • One 3-hour practical class plus one 5-hour assignment
  • One 3-hour problem/based learning session plus one 5-hour assignment
  • Three 1-hour whole class introductions to practical class

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: