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B1 Part 1 B1 Lesson 18 Use of Plant hormones in agriculture B1 Lesson 20 Drugs Statins and Recreational Drugs
Year 9

Learning outcomes and Specification referenceEdit

B1 1.3.1 Drugs B1 Lesson 19 Drugs
a & b Testing of new drugs and clinical trials. Define the term ‘drug’.
Give examples of medical drugs.
Explain why drugs need to be tested before they can be prescribed.
Describe the main steps in testing a new drug.
Explain the terms placebo and double-blind trial.
d Thalidomide Describe the uses and problems associated with thalidomide.
Explain how the drug testing procedure for thalidomide was inappropriate.

Full Specification TextEdit

a) Scientists are continually developing new drugs.
b) When new medical drugs are devised, they have to be extensively tested and trialled before being used. Drugs are tested in a series of stages to find out if they are safe and effective. New drugs are extensively tested for toxicity, efficacy and dose:
■ in the laboratory, using cells, tissues and live animals
■ in clinical trials involving healthy volunteers and patients. Very low doses of the drug are given at the start of the clinical trial. If the drug is found to be safe, further clinical trials are carried out to find the optimum dose for the drug. In some double blind trials, some patients are given a placebo, which does not contain the drug. Neither the doctors nor the patients know who has received a placebo and who has received the
drug until the trial is complete.
d) Thalidomide is a drug that was developed as a sleeping pill. It was also found to be effective in relieving morning sickness in pregnant women. Thalidomide had not been tested for use in pregnant women. Unfortunately, many babies born to mothers who took the drug were born with severe limb abnormalities. The drug was then banned. As a result, drug testing has become much more rigorous. More recently, thalidomide has been used successfully in the treatment of leprosy and other diseases.

Starter ActivitiesEdit

Activities to introduce new ideasEdit

Activities to practice applying new knowledgeEdit

  • SciberBrain - Drug Trials Very good website with a range of resources and activities for the teaching of drugs trials; including, flash animations, video, debating and presenting activity, discussion prompts and links to other online information sources. See this Teacher Guide for more info.
  • Should Thalidomide be used for treating disease? A role-play activity which highlights some of the difficult societal issues relating to drug regulations.
  • The Power to Prescribe The Wellcome Trust - Three different drugs - tackling obesity, HIV/AIDS and heart disease - have had successful phase II trials but the company can only afford to run expensive phase III trials on one of them. But which one will it be? Review each of the proposals, take part in a debate to discuss the issues involved and vote on the drug in which you think the company should invest.
  • Double Blind Trials - UPD8 Activity (LOGIN REQUIRED)

Practical activitiesEdit


  • Observer Bias (teacher notes). Play 'backmasked' music, asking pupils to write down what they hear. Then tell them what they 'should' hear, and see if they can hear it better now. Plays upon the idea of 'hidden lyrics' within songs played backwards.
A Dramatic Demonstration of the Power of Mental Frames

A Dramatic Demonstration of the Power of Mental Frames

Simon Singh demonstrating Observer Bias

Class practicalsEdit

The Placebo Effect

The Placebo Effect

Ben Goldacre explains The Placebo Effect


News Articles - Drugs Trials

References to lessons and resources in commercial schemesEdit

Nelson ThornesEdit


Harper CollinsEdit