Monday, July 04, 2005

Antipyretic Drug

First of all, an etymology of the vocabulary:

Reducing or tending to reduce fever.

anti [Greek, from anti, opposite]
pyretic [New Latin pyreticus, from Greek puretos, fever, from pr, fire]

Okay okay... that was the only technical stuff. Here goes the real story. Yesterday night one of my friends' friend blushed out of a sudden, without a single sign of fever, light-headedness, dizziness, fatigue and illness. Her red turned flaming red and the sign persisted for a few hours without abating. From the first glance she seemed like having a fever, but no, contrary to the common symptom, she felt hot instead of cold.

There started an "intellectual discourse" among a few pharmacy students about whether to prescribe some antipyretic drug such as Panadol. As a first year medical student, the sense of helplessness suddenly overwhelmed me as I could hardly make out a sense of the name of drugs they were discussing about. Yeah, you are right, the only names I recognized were the two I am mentioning here: Panadol and antipyretic.

What's the relationship between Panadol and antipyretic drug then?

Panadol is a kind of anti-pyretic drug. (duhh... ) After their discussion, they kind of had a conclusion, i.e. not to give her antipyretic drug. Why neh? For the fundamental reason, we have to go back to the very mechanism of antipyretic drug then. Through the mist of their discussion, I was totally disorientated except for the fact that nobody really knows how antipyretic drug works. So I thought, okay, chance for me to learn something online...

So I came home and did some online research after helping my roommate with some grand projects. Wikipedia came to help here - I went through a few articles of paracetamol and discovered some surprising facts - biochemists don't really know how paracetamol works!! In fact, paracetamol was found accidentally from another drug and in the urine of a patient who has taken another drug. Today, the latest research result only "suspected that paracetamol has a similar mechanism of action to aspirin because of the similarity in structure". "Its exact mechanism of action is still poorly understood, but future research may provide further insight into how it works."

Hmmph... Although paracetamol is one of the most popular over-the-counter drugs in this world, imagine that we don't really know how it works. But yet, whenever we are feeling headache, having a high fever, we take it without giving a second thought!

In March 2004, I contracted measles and had high fevers for more than a week. In that particular week, I consumed more than 100 tablets of paracetamol just to keep the temperature under control. Today I am breathing without any problems, oh yea, except the occasional cough and some phlegms; but who in the world could tell me what other hidden havoc this little cutie might have wrought inside me?

Maybe I won't live until 82, then.


Winson Kang said...

Hmm...nice post!!really remind me of all the wonderful things of chemistry...benzene ring,amine, kekule structure and so on so forth. Hey by the way, i know pyrolysis, the dissociation of a compound due to heat....Wow man, am i great???