Why do we have to test drugs?

Drug: substance that causes an effect on the body. They change chemical processes in the body. Some can be addictive & make you feel good about yourself.


  • Reduced morning sickness in pregnant women
  • Affected babies in their mothers womb
  • Newborn babies were missing limbs, suffering terribly
  • To prevent this happening again, all drugs must be thoroughly tested

Drugs are tested to see if they work properly and have no major side effects

They have to be tested in many ways to make sure they are safe

Double blind trial: The volunteers are split into 2 groups, one group is given a placebo which doesnt contain any of the drug and the other group is given the drug. Neither the doctor nor the volunteers know which group has which pill, so it is completely fair

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Drug Testing

The process:

  • Researchers develop many possible drugs that can be used
  • The drugs are tested on cells or single organs so the researchers know it isnt harmful. Many of the drugs are eliminated at this stage
  • The drug is tested on animals (usually rats) to find any side effects. Pregnant animals may also be used
  • The drug is tested on willing volunteers in a double blind trial in increasing doses to check for side effetcs in humans
  • The drug is testes on patients with the disease (volunteers), to test for effectiveness and dosage
  • The drug is tested on thousands of patients

If a drug has passed all of these tests, it is licensed for use and can be prescribed to patients. The drug is observed on patients for new or long term side effects

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Cholesterol & Statins

Cholesterol: A fatty steroid made in the liver. It is used to make hormones & cell membranes, but too much can lead to heart problems. Exessive cholesterol levels can be inherited.

High Density Lipoproteins ( HDL ): Takes cholesterol from the tissue to the liver for disposal. This is GOOD.

Low Density Lipoproteins ( LDL ): Takes cholesterol from the live to the blood vessels where it can build up and block main arteries. This is BAD.

High cholesterol can cause problems such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke or even death

In 1976, chemicals in a fungus was found to inhibit 'HMG - CaA' , which cholesterol can't be made without. These chemicals were called STATINS.

This means that patients with inherited high cholesterol levels can take statins to control their cholesterol levels. Statins are very effective, but can cause liver damage in extreme cases. It is possible to reduce exess cholesterol by exercising and eating well

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Recreational Drugs & Cannabis

Reacreational drug: Drugs that you take to feel a certain way. These are not prescribed and can be illegal ( cocaine, heroin etc) or legal (caffeine, tobacco etc)

Gateway drug: Use of this drug can lead to the user being more influenced to try more dangerous drugs throught the influece of cannabis or encouragement of the drug dealer


  • An illegal depressant drug that makes the user feel relaxed and/or hallucinate
  • Makes the user paranoid & more likely to develop psychotic illnesses
  • It acts as a gateway drug to 'harder' drugs
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Performance Enhancing Drugs

  • Some athletes take drugs to improve their performance
  • The drugs change the body's chemistry to give the athlete an edge
  • They are considered unethical to most people

Types of drugs:

Peptide hormones/ Steroids:

  • Increase size of muscles
  • Used by swimmers, boxers, runners etc
  • Increases agressiveness and can damage kidneys


  • Speed up parts of the body and brain to improve reactions & stop fatigue
  • Used by team players, etc
  • Can lead to heart disease and addiction
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Types of Performance Enhancing Drugs


  • Stop effects of tiredness & reduce pain from injuries
  • Used by long distance runners, etc
  • Can worsen the injury

Beta blockers:

  • Slow heart rate down & calms you down
  • Used by darts & archery players
  • Risk of heart attacks


  • Increases the amount of urine you pass, making you lighter
  • Used by jockeys, canoers etc
  • Risk of passing out from dehydration

EPO: Increases the amount of red blood cells in your body. The more oxygen ( carried by red blood cells), the easier it is to exercise.

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