PHR1022 - How Medicines Work II - 2017

18 points, SCA Band 2, 0.375 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 Natalie Trevaskis

Dr Thet Thet Htar (Malaysia)

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


This unit builds upon PHR1021 to provide an overview of how drugs interact with their target once they have been absorbed into the bloodstream and the processes that occur in the body to remove the drug. To address these key areas, students will study the fundamentals of medicinal chemistry and pharmacology, with an emphasis on structure-activity relationships, drug-target interactions and the mechanism of action of medicines. Students will explore the concepts of drug clearance and volume of distribution, and how these impact on the secondary pharmacokinetic parameters which ultimately lead to the design of safe and effective therapeutic dosage regimens.


At the end of this unit, students can be expected to:

In the context of a medicine/drug and/or patient:

  1. Explain and predict properties of drugs based on structural shape, ionisation states, functional group behaviour and physicochemical characteristics
  2. Outline medicinal chemistry approaches that are used to improve drug disposition and action
  3. Describe the chemistry of drug-receptor interactions including structure-activity relationships
  4. Explain the methods used for qualitative and quantitative analysis of drugs and biomarkers
  5. List and describe different drug targets and predict the downstream effects of drug-target interactions in physiological and pathophysiological settings, with respect to a/an:
    1. Antagonist
    2. Agonist
    3. Enzyme inhibitor
    4. Uptake inhibitor
    5. Ion channel modulator
    6. Biological therapy
  6. Describe the mechanism(s) of action of the first year Pharmulary drugs
  7. Predict the distribution and clearance of drugs from an analysis of their chemical structure
  8. Calculate and describe how drug clearance and volume of distribution determine the plasma concentration profile of a drug
  9. Calculate and apply a range of secondary pharmacokinetic parameters that determine dosage regimens
  10. Describe, define and calculate drug bioavailability
  11. Describe and evaluate how the relationship between pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics determines the time-course of drug response
  12. Calculate cumulative drug response given the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of a drug
  13. Effectively communicate (orally and written) aspects of how medicines work to peers, lay people and other healthcare professionals
  14. Use a structured approach for problem solving
  15. Describe different types of drug-drug interactions and predict their impact on plasma drug concentration vs time profiles and therapeutic response


Final exam (two exams: 1.5 and 2 hours) 30%; and In semester assessment 70%

Workload requirements

  • Two-hundred and sixteen hours of independent study
  • Seventy-two hours of pre-learning activities (up to 6 hours per week)
  • Seventy-two hours of active learning lectures (6 hours a week)
  • Seventy-two hours of small group classes including assessment (6 hours per week)
  • One 3-hour written examination

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

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