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What is ADME? - Definition & Process

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Have you ever wondered what happens to the drug you take once you have taken it? That's what ADME and pharmacokinetics is all about! Don't be intimidated. Like swallowing a small vitamin pill, this lesson isn't all that hard.

What Is ADME?

ADME stands for absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion with respect to a specific topic in pharmacology known as pharmacokinetics. It isn't as hard as it all sounds. When you eat, you must absorb your food. Then, this food must be sent all over the body, or distributed. You also have to get rid of waste products your body produces as a result of this food, something that occurs via urine and feces.

A similar type of thing has to happen with the drugs you may take when you are sick! Let's explore more about pharmacokinetics and ADME.

Pharmacokinetics

A very important concept in pharmacology is Pharmacokinetics (PK). Pharmacokinetics, simply put is what the body does to a drug. A bit more technically, pharmacokinetics can be defined as the study of the time course of a drug's absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. So, we're back where we started, ADME.

Absorption & Distribution

Absorption is a term that refers to the movement of a drug into the bloodstream from its site of administration. For example, many of drugs you take by mouth will be absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestines.

Oral medication, such as these pills, are absorbed into the body via the intestines.
Tramadol

Once that drug has been absorbed into the bloodstream it is distributed. Distribution refers to the transportation of a drug from the blood, to its site of action. Your bloodstream carries these drug molecules around to their final destination much like a highway allows cars to zip around to their final destination.

Metabolism & Excretion

Some drugs that enter the body are metabolized. In this context, metabolism refers to a process whereby the body converts a drug that has been absorbed by the body from its original form and into a new form, called a metabolite. The most important site of drug metabolism for many drugs is the liver.

Drug metabolism can have many consequences. For instance, we may give an inactive medication to a person which is then metabolized into a metabolite and that metabolite is actually the active form of the drug that exerts its therapeutic effects in the body.

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