15 Drug Classes You Need to Know
As part of your pharmacy exam, you are expected to understand the fundamentals of medicine. This includes drug classes. Below, we’ve put together a range of drug classes – and some examples of each – that you need to know.
Most drug classes are widely known, and their function is clear. When we hear of “antihypertensive drugs”, we understand its purpose. That said, it’s often valuable to go back to basics to ensure we really understand the purpose of each drug class.
Take “sedative” and “hypnotic”, for example.
Though these drug classes have different clinical roles, it’s not uncommon to hear these terms used interchangeably – as if they mean the same thing. True, they have overlapping functions but, individually, there is a clear distinction.
Sedatives are medicines whose purpose is to relieve anxiety / stress. Hypnotics are medicines that induce and prolong sleep.
Some drugs are therefore classified as sedative-hypnotics, because the medicine carries a dual role. Benzodiazepines, for example, have both sedative and hypnotic effects. It’s important to bear this type of distinction in mind.
We’ve also included other important distinctions – such as the difference between a “diuretic” and an “aquaretic”, and the difference between an “expectorant” and a “mucolytic”, among others.
Though these details are somewhat small, it’s vital that you do not overlook them. You can expect NAPLEX practice questions on topics such as this. Taking a few minutes to revise these fundamental details can, therefore, go a long way.
Must-Know Drug Classes
Below, we’ve put together 15 must-know drug classes – some of which are obvious, some not so obvious. It’s important not to miscategorise a medicine.
|Anorectic||Bupropion/naltrexone||Drug that reduces appetite|
|Drug that stimulates appetite|
|Drug that suppresses cough|
|Expectorant||Guaifenesin||Enhances mucus production|
|Thin viscous / excessive mucus production|
|Drug that reduces fever|
|Aquaretic||Tolvaptan||Drug that promotes water loss but not electrolyte loss|
|Drug that promotes both water and electrolyte loss|
|Enhance cognitive function|
|Hypnotic / sleep induction|
|Cerumenolytic||Hydrogen peroxide||Ear wax softener|
|Pediculicide||Permethrin||Drugs that treat lice|
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