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Medical Student Education

The Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics offers an Advanced Basic Science Elective for the senior (fourth) year medical students of Jefferson Medical College, entitled "Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics" and designated Pharm 401. It usually is offered in the 19th teaching block (April) for 4 weeks, meeting Monday through Friday for 3-4 hours each morning. This is open for 25-100 senior medical students. A description of this course is offered below:

General Information - Pharm 401

Clinical pharmacology deals with the effects of drugs in man and how drugs are used most effectively to treat diseases. The overall objectives of this course are to provide the student with the scientific and practical basis of successful drug therapy, and thus, to prepare him/her for the house staff years.

The Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics of Jefferson Medical College gives this elective course. The lectures are primarily from the different divisions of the Department of Medicine; others are from the Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Emergency Medicine, and Dermatology.

Specific Goals

Specific goals of the course are as follows:

  • To review the principles of clinical pharmacokinetics.
  • To present students with practical information on the clinical pharmacology of the major drug classes and the application of such information to the solution of therapeutic problems.
  • To provide students with the latest in the development of therapeutic objectives, strategies and guidelines in the management of the major medical disorders.
  • To enhance students' ability to evaluate critically, and use effectively, current information sources on clinical pharmacology and therapeutics.

Course Objectives

The objectives of the course are to present clinical pharmacology and practical therapeutics, including fundamental principles, mechanisms of action, rationales for drug selection, optimization of drug therapy, and assessment of therapeutic efficacy and outcome. This includes addressing the following aspects of clinical pharmacology and practical therapeutics:

  • How to develop an organized and rational approach to the different areas of pharmacotherapeutics, including the definition of therapeutic objectives and options, rationale for drug selection and drug dose, identification of clinical parameters and endpoints to monitor (e.g., to determine how long to treat), and assessment of therapeutic efficacy and outcome.
  • How to evaluate the pharmacotherapeutic response in the individual patient, including monitoring drug concentrations, pharmacologic effects and adverse drug reactions, assessing variability in drug responsiveness from one patient to another (e.g., desired, excessive, and unsatisfactory responses), and appreciating how the observed pharmacologic effect can be translated into therapeutic efficacy.
  • How to be adept in the practical use of pharmacokinetic parameters of drugs (e.g., t1/2, Cl, Vd, fe. and ff) and the application of clinical pharmacokinetic principles (e.g., therapeutic drug monitoring, drug dosage regimen design, and dosage regimen adjustment).
  • How to be skilled in anticipating altered drug dose requirements in patients with altered drug disposition and/or at specific risk (e.g., patients with renal or hepatic insufficiency, the elderly, and pregnant women.)
  • How to be well versed in the areas of adverse drug reactions, drug allergies, and drug interactions, as well as patient-related factors that may contribute to these.
  • How to develop a systematic approach to the management of poisoning and drug overdose, involving the use of fundamental pharmacological principles, as well as to the detection and management of substance abuse and its complications.
  • How to be proficient in the use of current information sources on clinical pharmacology and therapeutics aspects, including the use of library and drug information resources, and computer-based databases.
  • How to be knowledgeable in the areas of federal and state regulations regarding the use of drugs, including FDA regulations, DEA regulations, Institutional Review Boards, drug utilization reviews, ethical issues related to prescribing (e.g., potential conflicts of interests, drug advertising), experimental therapies, informed consent, and the process of new drug development and approval.

Handouts and Textbook

The handouts prepared by the lecturers contain notes, synopses, and case histories. Lecturers are encouraged to prepare succinct therapeutic guidelines for their topics.

A specific textbook is not required, but recommended for the course:

  • Atkinson Jr., A.J., Daniels, C.E., Dedrick, R.L., Grudzinskas, C.V., Markey, S.P., eds. Principles of Clinical Pharmacology, Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 2001.
  • Carruthers, S. G., Hoffman, B.B., Melmon, K.L., Nierenberg, D.W., eds. Melmon and Morrelli's Clinical Pharmacology. 4th edition, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2000.

Final Examination

At the end of the course there is a final written examination, which will be open book with a choice of case oriented clinical scenarios. Grading is by grade symbols as required by the Registrar's Office.