The clinical responses to drug administration can be greatly influenced both by the chronological age of the patient and by the relative maturity of the particular organ system that is being targeted. Human development follows a continuum of time-related events. There are unique therapeutic differences and concerns associated with the treatment of the very young and the elderly patient. Age-dependent changes in body function are known to alter the pharmacokinetic parameters that determine each compound's duration of action, extent of drug-receptor interaction, and the drug's rates of absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. This chapter discusses some of these principles and the cautions that must be considered when treating these particular patient populations.
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