This unit addresses drug types used to treat a variety of medical conditions which osteopaths may encounter in their clinical practice. These include drugs used in the treatment of skin and respiratory conditions; drugs used for treating hypertension and angina (adrenoreceptor blockers, anticoagulants and lipid-lowering drugs); and those with other  vascular effects like 5-HT agonists and sympathomimetic. Newest approaches in pharmacological treatments of endocrine disorders (including diabetes mellitus) and neoplasms are all considered. Pharmacological treatments for central nervous disorders (like epilepsy and Parkinson's) and mental disorders include hypnotics, anxiolytics, antidepressants and other drugs used in CNS & psychiatric disorders. In addition to studying the therapeutic use of drugs, students will investigate recreational drugs and the effects of substance abuse. 

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Analyse and predict the actions, interactions and adverse effects of the major drugs commonly seen in osteopathic practice;  
  2. Articulate protocols for referrals to other health practitioners as appropriate and debate the potential for ethical issues in cases where medications may be causing health problems;  
  3. Conceptually map the actions, interactions and adverse effects of the drugs/supplements for the management of cardiac, gastrointestinal, respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions; and  
  4. Critically apply pharmaceutical knowledge in advising patients about medication issues according to contemporary and emerging evidence.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Review Short literature review (1500 words) 25%
Case Study Case study analysis and response (750 words) 25%
Report Appraisal of pharmaceutical therapy (750 words) 25%
Other Reflective piece on the completed tasks and their relationship to future practice (1000 words) 25%
90% attendance is required at tutorial, practical and workshop classes in the osteopathic program. The tutorial activities in this unit are interactive and students are able to seek feedback from the tutor on meeting the learning outcomes and planning for assessment tasks. Further, students develop a portfolio (4 assessment tasks combined) in this unit and tutorial activities are critical in the development of the portfolio. The portfolio of assessments includes one hurdle task: Assessment Item 4, Journal, Reflective piece on the completed tasks and their relationship to future practice (750 words). This item is a hurdle requirement as it is essential students are able to reflect at this stage in their osteopathic program (close to graduation).

Required reading

Pharmacology for health professionals. (3rd ed.).
Bryant, B., & Knights, K. (2011).

Fundamentals of Pharmacology. (7th ed)
Bullock, S., Manias, E.(2014).

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