What is ADME? - Definition & Process

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  • 0:04 What Is ADME?
  • 0:37 Pharmacokinetics
  • 0:58 Absorption & Distribution
  • 1:29 Metabolism & Excretion
  • 2:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

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're sick. Let's explore more about pharmacokinetics and ADME.


A very important concept in pharmacology is pharmacokinetics. 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 the 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's 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.

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