Biology - B1.3 - Medicine and Drugs

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B1.3.1 - Developing New Medicines

  • Drugs tested on cells -> tissues -> organs -> animals -> healthy humans -> ill humans
  • Low doses are given to humans, incase unsafe, and side effects are reported
  • Placebos given to half the patients in some trails to see if there really is an effect
  • Double-blind trial - neither patient nor doctor know who's given a drug
  • Thalidomide - orginally used as sleeping pill, but could control morning sickness, so given to pregnant women - it hadn't been tested on pregnant women and some babies were born with limb abnormalities as a result
  • The drug was banned and rules for drug testing were improved
  • Recently, it has been used to treat other conditions, including leprosy
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B1.3.2 - How Effective are Medicines?

  • Statins - drugs which lower 'bad' cholesterol amount, given to older people, taken daily, trials, using very large numbers of people, show that incidences of heart disease and strokes has gone down by over 40%
  • Some peopple prefer non-prescribed drugs - eg. herbs
  • St John Wort - herb used to treat depression instead of anti depresants - eg. Prozac
  • Double-blind trials must be conducted to see which is more effective
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B1.3.3 - Drugs

  • Useful drugs made form natural substances have been used by indigenous people for a long time
  • When developing drugs, testing takes a long time to ensure there are no side effects
  • Recreational drugs, eg. heroin and cocaine are used for pleasure - they are addictive and illegal
  • Cannabis is also an illegal, recreational drug and some argue it can lead to 'harder' drugs
  • Stopping taking addictive drugs results in withdrawal symptons
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B1.3.4 - Legal and Illegal Drugs

  • Medicinal drugs are developed over many years and are used to control disease or to help people suffering - most are only avaliable by prescription
  • Recreational drugs are used for pleasure - they affect the brain and nervous system - which makes them easily addictive - and can have adverse affects on the heart and circulatory system
  • Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol are legal, recreational drugs - many health problems are associated with them, eg. alcohol poisoning, nicotine addiction leading to lung cancer from cigarette smoke
  • Some drugs used for medicinal purposes can be used illegally in sport, eg. stimulants
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B1.3.5 - Does Cannabis Lead to Hard Drugs?

  • Evidence shows that cannabis causes mental illnesses in some people and teenagers smoking it increase their risk of getting depression
  • Cannabis is an illegal drugs, bought from dealers, which puts users in contact with hard drugs, eg. heroin
  • Not all cannabis users go on to hard drugs, but nearly all heroin users previously smoked cannabis
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B1.3.6 - Drugs In Sport

  • Some athletes are tempted to use drugs, to improve their performance
  • Steroids build up muscle mass and other drugs can increase stamina
  • Strong pain killers are banned, as injuries may be ignored, leading to further damage
  • Most performance-inhancing drugs are expensive, giving an unfair advantage to those who can afford them
  • Perfomance enhancing drugs can cause permanent damage and even lead to death
  • Most people think that using performance-enhancing drugs is unethical
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