Pharmacology Drug Classifications

Pharmacology Drug Classifications

Overview of drug categories based on body system targeting and pharmacological effects.

Cardiovascular System

Drugs affecting heart and blood vessels.


Lower blood pressure to prevent heart complications.

ACE Inhibitors

End in '-pril', reduce blood pressure by inhibiting angiotensin-converting enzyme.

Beta Blockers

End in '-olol', decrease heart rate and dilate blood vessels.

Calcium Channel Blockers

End in '-dipine', exception: verapamil, diltiazem.


Includes thiazide, loop, and potassium-sparing; each subtype has characteristic drugs.

Nervous System

Drugs targeting the central and peripheral nervous system.


Manage pain, ranging from mild to severe.


Named individually (e.g., morphine, fentanyl).


End in '-fen', '-profen'; reduces inflammation, e.g., ibuprofen.

Local Anesthetics

End in '-caine', block nerve conduction locally.


Relieve symptoms of depression.


End in '-pram' or '-traline', selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.


End in '-faxine', serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.


Named individually (e.g., phenelzine, tranylcypromine).

Respiratory System

Agents affecting lung function and respiratory health.


Expand airways to ease breathing.


End in '-terol', stimulate beta receptors to dilate airways.


End in '-tropium', block muscarinic receptors to open airways.


End in '-sone' or '-lone', reduce inflammation in airways.

Gastrointestinal System

Medications treating digestive tract conditions.


Neutralize stomach acid, often contain ‘-ide’ (e.g., magnesium hydroxide).

Proton Pump Inhibitors

End in '-prazole', reduce gastric acid production.


Control nausea and vomiting; suffixes vary widely.

Endocrine System

Regulate hormones and metabolic processes.


Named individually (e.g., insulin glargine, insulin lispro).

Oral Hypoglycemics

End in '-gliptin' or '-glitazone', manage blood sugar in diabetes.

Thyroid Agents

Includes levothyroxine; regulates thyroid hormone levels.

Antimicrobial Drugs

Combat infectious organisms.


Subdivided into classes like penicillins, cephalosporins, each has characteristic suffixes.


End in '-cillin', target bacterial cell wall synthesis.


End in '-thromycin', inhibit bacterial protein synthesis.


Named individually or end in '-vir', target virus replication.


End in '-azole', target fungal cell membranes.

Please note, this chart is not exhaustive and serves as a high-level outline for some commonly categorized pharmacologic drugs according to their therapeutic use and respective body system targeted as per NCLEX classifications.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Analgesic and antipyretic drugs available without prescription.

NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs)

Provide pain relief, reduce inflammation and lower fever.


Generic ibuprofen is branded as Advil and Motrin. It treats pain and inflammation.


Aleve is the brand version. It relieves pain and decreases swelling.


Bayer is a well-known aspirin brand used for pain and to reduce the risk of heart attack.


Not as common, sold as Indocin, it's used for moderate pain and inflammation.


Orudis is the brand name. It treats pain and inflammation similarly to ibuprofen.


Primarily reduces fever and relieves pain, but does not affect inflammation.

Acetaminophen Generic

Tylenol is the popular brand name. It's mainly used for pain and fever.


Mapap is another acetaminophen brand option for pain relief and fever reduction.


Ofirmev is the intravenous form of acetaminophen for hospital use.


FeverAll is a brand of acetaminophen suppositories, used in infants and children.

Nervous System Pharmacology

Overview of drug categories targeting the nervous system.

Central Nervous System (CNS)

Drugs affecting brain and spinal cord functions.


Reduce CNS activity, inducing relaxation or sleep.


Treat psychosis, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.


Relieve anxiety without causing significant sedation.


Increase activity of the CNS, enhancing alertness.

Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

Medications targeting the nerves outside the CNS.


Mimic the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.


Block the action of acetylcholine in the PNS.


Mimic the action of adrenaline and noradrenaline.


Block the effects of adrenaline in various tissues.

Specific Disorders

Drugs often specialized to treat specific nervous conditions.


Suppress seizures in conditions like epilepsy.


Treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Muscle Relaxants

Ease muscle spasms and spasticity.


Relieve pain through a variety of mechanisms.

Nervous System Pharmacology

Understanding the nervous system is crucial for pharmacology, particularly when studying drugs that impact its function.

Central Nervous System

Referred to as the control center, involving the brain and spinal cord, and targeted by various neurological drugs.


Coordinates sensory information and directs motor responses; site of action for CNS depressants and stimulants.

Spinal Cord

Conveys messages to and from the brain and body; affected by analgesics and anesthetics.

Blood-Brain Barrier

Selectively permits substances to enter the brain; critical in drug design and delivery.


Chemical messengers; target for antidepressants, antipsychotics, and other neuromodulating agents.

Peripheral Nervous System

Connects the CNS to limbs and organs; influenced by drugs acting on peripheral targets.

Somatic Nervous System

Controls voluntary movements; site for neuromuscular blockers and stimulants.

Autonomic Nervous System

Regulates involuntary functions; divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic.

Sympathetic Nervous System

Responsible for 'fight or flight'; affected by adrenergic agonists and antagonists.

Parasympathetic Nervous System

Controls rest and digest; muscarinic agonists and antagonists modify its responses.

Drug Receptors

Where drugs bind and exert effects, commonly found on nerve cell membranes.

Ion Channels

A target for antiepileptics and local anesthetics — modify neuronal excitability.

G Protein-Coupled Receptors

Involved in a wide range of functions; include receptors for neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

Enzyme-Linked Receptors

Key in signal transduction; targeted by drugs for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

Nuclear Receptors

Slow-acting receptors that alter gene transcription; less common but relevant for hormonal drugs impacting the nervous system.

Drug Action Mechanisms

Describes how drugs are affecting the nervous system components.


Mimic neurotransmitter action to activate receptors; used in deficiency states or to increase activity.


Block neurotransmitter action to inhibit overactivity; commonly used in hypertension or anxiety.

Reuptake Inhibitors

Prevent the removal of neurotransmitters, enhancing their effects; key in depression treatment.

Enzyme Inhibitors

Block breakdown of neurotransmitters; used in diseases where increasing neurotransmitter concentration is beneficial.

Pharmacokinetics and Dynamics

Understanding drug movement and effects within the body.


Determines how a drug enters bloodstream and reaches its target; affected by blood-brain barrier.


Describes dispersal throughout the body; lipid-soluble drugs more easily penetrate the CNS.


Liver enzymes break down drugs; central to understanding dosing and drug interactions.


Removal of drugs or their metabolites, primarily through kidneys; important for drug clearance and duration of action.

Types of Drugs and Their Examples

Drugs are classified based on their effects and properties. There are several types, each with distinct characteristics and examples.


Stimulants accelerate brain activity, boost energy, and increase alertness.


A powerful and addictive drug derived from coca leaves.


Includes drugs like Adderall and methamphetamine, used medicinally and recreationally.


A common stimulant found in coffee, tea, and many sodas.


The addictive substance found in tobacco products.


Depressants slow down the function of the central nervous system.


A legal depressant that alters mood and coordination.


Medications like Valium and Xanax, used to treat anxiety.


Formerly common for anxiety and insomnia, now less so due to their risk.


Includes prescription pain relievers like morphine and illicit drugs like heroin.


Hallucinogens cause altered perceptions and can lead to psychological effects.


A potent hallucinogen known for its strong effects on the mind.


Found in certain mushrooms, it causes hallucinations and an altered state of consciousness.

MDMA (Ecstasy)

Though often classified as a stimulant, it has strong hallucinogenic properties.


A powerful chemical found in some Amazonian plants.


Dissociatives cause a sense of detachment from reality.


Used both as a medical anesthetic and a recreational drug.


Also known as angel dust, it can cause hallucinations and a dissociative state.


Found in some cough suppressants; in high doses can cause dissociation.

Nitrous Oxide

Also known as laughing gas, used for dental procedures and recreationally.


Derived from the Cannabis plant, they have a range of effects on the mind and body.

Marijuana (Cannabis)

The most widely used illicit drug globally, with psychoactive effects.


A concentrated form of cannabis resin.

Synthetic cannabinoids

Often marketed as "spice" or "K2," these are man-made chemicals with unpredictable effects.

CBD (Cannabidiol)

Non-psychoactive but believed to have therapeutic benefits.

Drug Interaction Overview

Essential insights into how drugs can interact with one another.

Cardiovascular System Interactions

Drugs for the heart and blood vessels have complex interactions.

Antihypertensives with Diuretics

Using together enhances the blood pressure-lowering effect.

Beta Blockers with Calcium Channel Blockers

May excessively reduce heart rate.

ACE Inhibitors with NSAIDs

NSAIDs can decrease the effectiveness of ACE inhibitors.

Nervous System Interactions

Central and peripheral nervous system medications can interact significantly.

Opioids with Antidepressants

Increased risk of central nervous system depression.

NSAIDs with Antihypertensives

NSAIDs may reduce the blood pressure-lowering effect of antihypertensives.

Local Anesthetics with Antihypertensives

May need to adjust dosing to prevent profound hypotension.

Respiratory System Interactions

Agents for lung function must be carefully combined.

Bronchodilators with Beta Blockers

Beta Blockers may negate the effects of beta-agonist bronchodilators.

Corticosteroids with Diuretics

Increased risk of hypokalemia (low potassium levels).

Gastrointestinal System Interactions

Balancing interactions is vital for digestive health medications.

Antacids with Antifungals

Antacids may hinder the absorption of certain antifungals.

Proton Pump Inhibitors with Antivirals

PPIs can alter the effectiveness of some antivirals.

Endocrine System Interactions

Hormonal medications need to be monitored for interactions.

Insulin with Oral Hypoglycemics

Used together for a synergistic effect, but can lead to hypoglycemia.

Thyroid Agents with Antidepressants

Thyroid medications can increase the risk of side effects from antidepressants.

Antimicrobial Interactions

Interactions play a significant role in treatment of infections.

Antibiotics with Anticoagulants

Certain antibiotics can potentiate the effect of anticoagulants.

Antivirals with Analgesics

Some analgesics can impact antiviral drug levels in the blood.

Antifungals with Immunosuppressants

Antifungals can lead to increased levels of immunosuppressants, necessitating dosage adjustments.

Note: This mind map is a simplified outline of potential drug interactions. Healthcare professionals must monitor and assess for interactions on a case-by-case basis.

Drug Legislation Evolution 1900s-Present

An overview of significant drug acts and amendments shaping the pharmaceutical and healthcare landscapes from the early 1900s to the present.

Early 1900s Regulation

Developing the groundwork for modern drug laws.

Pure Food and Drug Act 1906

First law to regulate manufacturing of food and medicines, prohibiting misbranded and adulterated products.

Harrison Narcotics Tax Act 1914

Imposed taxes on the distribution of opiates and cocaine, effectively limiting their availability to the public.

Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act 1938

Replaced the 1906 Act, expanding the FDA's authority to oversee the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics.

Mid-20th Century Updates

Responding to evolving challenges in drug safety and efficacy.

Kefauver Harris Amendment 1962

Strengthened drug regulation by requiring proof of effectiveness and safety of drugs before approval.

Controlled Substances Act 1970

Established schedules for drugs based upon their potential for abuse and medical value, and set up the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Orphan Drug Act 1983

Encouraged the development and commercialization of drugs treating rare diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans.

Late 20th Century Acts

Introducing faster drug approvals and patient protection.

Prescription Drug User Fee Act 1992 (PDUFA)

Allowed the FDA to collect fees from drug manufacturers to fund the new drug approval process, reducing the time required.

Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act 1994

Defined what constitutes a dietary supplement and exempted them from strict pre-market approval rules that apply to drugs.

Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act 1997 (FDAMA)

Updated FDA processes, making them more efficient and flexible, and allowed fast-track drug approvals.

21st Century Developments

Tackling contemporary health issues and technology influences.

Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act 2003

Introduced Medicare Part D, providing benefits for prescription drugs to Medicare beneficiaries.

FDA Amendments Act 2007 (FDAAA)

Expanded the FDA's authorities further to enhance drug safety, imposing stronger penalties for non-compliance.

21st Century Cures Act 2016

Accelerated drug and device approval processes and incorporated patient experience on decision making.

COVID-19 Response

Adjustments due to the global pandemic.

CARES Act 2020

Included provisions for supply chain flexibility and prioritized the review of drug applications related to COVID-19.

EUA for COVID-19 Vaccines 2020

Emergency Use Authorizations facilitated the timely approval and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic.