Medication can be sold or administered as tablets, creams, injections, drops, capsules and more. These different ways that pharmaceutical drugs are administered, along with the physical forms that they take, are collectively referred to as drug dosage forms.
One of the most important responsibilities a pharmacy assistant has is preparing pharmaceutical drugs for customers. A part of that responsibility includes understanding what drug dosage forms are, how they are used and the advantages and disadvantage of each form. If you’re considering a pharmacy assistant career, read on to learn more.
Pharmacy Assistants Should Know About These Drug Dosage Form Categories
There are two categories under which the different types of drug dosage forms fall: route of administration and physical form. Route of administration refers to how the drug actually enters the body, such as by being ingested or applied topically.
Different routes of administration include, but are not limited to:
The physical form, on the other hand, refers to whether the drug is administered as a solid, semisolid, liquid or gas. There is a lot of overlap between the route of administration and the physical form a drug takes. A drug that can be inhaled, for example, such as an aerosol, will come in a gaseous form. One that is applied topically, on the other hand, will come in a semisolid form.
Pharmacy Assistants Understand Why Different Drug Forms Are Used
Various circumstances, such as the condition being treated, the needs of the patient and how the drug is best absorbed by the body, will determine which drug dosage form is best. Once you’ve completed your training and become a pharmacy assistant, you will find that most people tend to prefer drugs that are administered orally, especially as tablets or capsules. However, oral medication is not suitable for everyone. The patient may be uncooperative, such as if they suffer from dementia or if they are young children. Also, stomach acid and enzymes may interfere with how the drug is absorbed. In such cases, a suppository or an injection may be more practical for administering the drug.
Suppositories and injections are both invasive and many patients, especially young children, tend to dislike them. The career training you’ll receive in a good pharmacy assistant program will help you understand the basics of pharmacology, including which dosage forms are more invasive than others. For example, a non-invasive drug dosage form, like a topical cream, may be ideal for a patient who has a rash or muscle pain. The downside with topicals, however, is that they are absorbed into the body at a slower rate than other forms of medication, such as intravenous, for example, which allows the medication to enter the bloodstream rather quickly.
There are various other factors to consider when choosing the right drug dosage form. Some dosage forms are easier to measure than others, while some need to be absorbed into specific areas of the body. As you will learn, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all drug dosage form and understanding the basic differences between each one is part of the job of a pharmacy assistant.
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