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.


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.

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.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account