Biology - Medicine and Drugs

These Cards have five sub-sub section and for AQA GCSE, the sections are:

Developing New Drugs How effecting are medicines Drugs Legal and Illegal Drugs Drugs in Sport


Developing New Medicines - Introduction

Scientists are developing new drugs all the time but before a drug is released it must go through extensive testing.

The testing makes sure it is:

  • Effective - to prevent or cure the disease or to make you feel better.
  • Safe - make sure the drug isn't too toxic or have unacceptable side effects.
  • Stable - to be able to store for a long time and used in normal conditions.
  • Consumation and Excretion - to get it to and from its target without damaging any other parts of you body on the way in and out.
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Developing New Medicines - Developing and Testing

When a new drug is discovered it must go under tests that can take up to 12 years and can cost £350,000.

The drug is first tested on cells, tissues and organs to see if they are too toxic (many drug fail at this stage).

They are then tested on animals for the optimum amount of dosage to be given and also the possible side effects.

Then they are tested on healthy human beings with very low doses to see the effect on humans.

They are then given to patients and to see if the drug is effective and the dosage is built up to see its optimum amount.

Placeboes may be used which is where a fake replica of the drug is given to make sure that all side effects are real and if it is a double blind trial then not only do the patients not know if they are being given a placebo but neither do the doctors.

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Developing New Medicines - Thalidomide

Thalidomide was used in the 1950s as a sleeping drug and was found out to relieve pregnant women of morning sickness.

The drug had not been tested fr pregnant women and the drug was not safe for developing feotuses. The babies born had severe limb dissorders.

This lead to more rigorous testing.

Thalidomide was then found out to treat leprosy, some autoimmune diseases and some cancers howver it was never given again to pregnant women.

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How effective are Medicines - Statins

If you have higher blood cholesterol, you are more likely to have a heart attack.

Statins are used as they target  the liver and stop it from producing to high a level.

Patients also need to keep a low fat diet for the best effects.

However, Statins can cause liver damage and this can cause many problems in your daily routine.

Some non-prescribed medicines can be dangerous as they have not been thoroughly tested.

If you suffer from depression your doctor may prescribe you to Prozac but some people go with St Johns Wart because it has better results but has not been tested because drug testing is very expensive.

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Drugs - Introduction

A drug changes the way either your brain, body or both works. Some are used for medicine and some are used for pleasure.

Pleasurable drugs are natural substances, mainly plants, some of these are legal however some are illegal.

The legal drugs are things such as, beer, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol. 

The illegal drugs are things such as, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy.

These drugs often have unacceptable side affects and often do not make you better.

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Drugs - The Problems of Drug Abuse

One of the main problems of drug abuse is addiction. You become dependant on them and have severe withdrawal symptoms.

If you are addicted to illegal drugs then the side affects are more common.

For example cocaine has chemicals that give you mental illness.

Hard drugs such as cocaine are extremely addictive.

Because the drugs are illegal they are very expensive and often young ones will resort to crime to pay for their habits.

You can get serious illnesses such as hepatitis, STDs, HIVs and AIDs especially if you take the drug in with a needle.

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Legal and Illegal Drugs - The Drug's Affect and Dr

The Affect

The main affect of an illegal drug is on your nervous system and your brain.

If you are addicted to the drug then your body cannot work properly without it.

If you do not have you nervous system working then you cannot feel pain or discomfort and that can have serious affects.

The Uses

The maain us for legal drug is to get better or to numb pain however even these drugs can have a psychological affect that make you addicted.

The main use for illegal drugs is for the excitement or for the escape, it can also be to fit in with a crowd but also to feel its effects.

Many illegal drugs give your body an increasing need to feel its affects.

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Legal and Illegal Drugs - Impact of Drugs

The impacts for illegal drugs on people are far smaller than the effect of legal drugs. This is because far more people take them therefore the side affects are more common, such as alcohol or nicotine.

In the UK there are around 2000 deaths linked to the use of illegal drugs but around 9000 people die because of the overuse of alcohol, 90,000 people die because of nicotine abuse and yet they remain legal.

The problem on whether a drug should be legal or illegal does not seem to be entirely based on the evidence of health damage.

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Drugs in Sport - Performance Enhancing Drugs

Steroids are used to build up muscle and are used by weight lifters.

Strong painkillers can be used so that an athlete can carry on with an injury and have been made illegal for people doing sport because they can have permanent damage.

Some cyclists use drugs to make more red blood cells so effectively they carry more oxygen and respirate more energy towards the muscles.

Some athletes, such as people who do darts, take drugs to slow down their heart rate to reduce the amount your hands shake.

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Drugs in Sport - The Ethics of Using Drugs in Spor

These are some of the answers athletes use to justify cheating:

  • They want to win.
  • They feel other athletes are using the substances and feel left behind.
  • The think the health risks are scare stories.
  • They did not know they were taking drugs.

Some of the drugs athletes can cause death.

Some drugs can also be incredibly expensive which give the rich athletes an advantage that the others do not have.

 Some people say that the athletes should be able to do what they want but most disagree.

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