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Carmen is excited about her first work term interview. Although the job description at NEW DEL. Inc. looked interesting, she is a bit nervous when she hears that the VP of research, Dr. Delano, will be interviewing her.

However, the interviewer seems relatively benign and quite enthusiastic about their new products. He tells her that they hope to ultimately develop smart drugs. He tells her that if she is selected, she would join a group working on a very exciting drug code named DD45.

"In vitro studies showed good transfers across the gut," he tells her. "Unfortunately, the first pass effect was significant and so bio-availability was low. We set about to develop alternative formulations."

He shows her a table with some preliminary results:

Preparation AUC (μg.hr/mL)
Oral (control) 5.8 0.9 (10)
Transdermal 12.6 0.8* (7)
Sublingual 9.9 0.6* (6)
Nebuliser 8.9 0.4* (8)
Metered-Dose Inhaler 8.0 0.7* (7)
Nasal spray 7.2 1.6 (4)

* Significantly different from control (P<0.05, 't' test)

The number of trials is given alongside in parentheses.

Carmen looks at the data shown. She remembers what she had learned from PMCol 3A06 some eight months earlier and says: "This is quite interesting, but I would need some more information before I can properly assess the results shown here." Dr. Delano replies, "Good girl. Now what would you like to know and why?"

"Oh, there's another thing, I don't think a t-test is appropriate without a Bonferroni correction."


This was the first problem in the Introductory pharmacology course and served as an introduction to several key concepts: routes of administration, first pass effects, bioavailability, absorption, distribution and excretion of drugs, areas under the curve and pharmaceutical formulations. Further it enabled me to reinforce some statistical concepts of particular relevance to experimental pharmacologists, namely the assumptions underlying "t" tests.

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