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Principles of clinical pharmacology: Introduction to pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics 

Principles of clinical pharmacology: Introduction to pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics
Principles of clinical pharmacology: Introduction to pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics

Michael Ong

and Udai Banerji


May 25, 2017: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.

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date: 14 July 2020

This chapter aims to provide a practical overview of basic pharmacological principles in the context of anticancer therapy. Key concepts are introduced for pharmacokinetics, the study of ‘what the human body does to the drug’, and pharmacodynamics, the study of ‘what the drug does to the human body’. Factors affecting anticancer drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion are described, and examples of pharmacokinetic applications are given, including dosing by body surface area, drug interactions, dose adjustment according to organ function, pharmacokinetic modelling, pharmacogenomics, and drug development. The importance of proof-of-mechanism and proof-of-concept pharmacodynamic biomarkers and how they affect definition of dose, schedule of administration, and ultimately efficacy of a drug is explained. Practical examples drawn from both conventional chemotherapeutic agents and novel targeted anticancer drugs are used to illustrate pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic principles relevant to practising oncologists.

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