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Onset of action is the duration of time it takes for a drug's effects to come to prominence upon administration. With oral administration, it typically ranges anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, depending on the drug in question. Other methods of ingestion such as smoking or injection can take as little as seconds to minutes to take effect. The determination of the onset of action, however, is not completely dependent upon route of administration. There are several other factors that determine the onset of action for a specific drug, including drug formulation, dosage, and the patient receiving the drug.

Effect of Administration Route on the Onset of Action[edit]

A drug's pharmacological effects can only occur once it has been fully solubilized and has entered the blood stream. For most drugs administered orally, the drug must be ingested, pass through the stomach, and into the small intestine, where the drug molecules enter the blood stream through the villi and microvilli.[1] Gastric emptying time can vary from 0 to 3 hours,[2] and therefore plays a major role in onset of action for orally administered drugs. For intravenous administration, the pathway is much shorter because the drug is administered (usually already in solution) directly to the bloodstream.


  2. ^ Bummer, Paul (2012). Gastro Intestinal Tract and Oral Drug Absorption. University of Kentucky. 

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68 news items

GlobeNewswire (press release)
Wed, 22 Oct 2014 05:00:00 -0700

Based on the efficacy and safety of twice daily dosing demonstrated in clinical studies, as well as the early onset of action and favorable safety profile for up to one year, we believe that Patiromer FOS has the potential to become a preferred ...
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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:41:15 -0700

In preclinical studies, the active oligonucleotide of RG-101 has shown activity against specific HCV genotypes as well as some of the known mutations that may cause resistance to the oral agents. RG-101 has rapid onset of action and target messenger ...


Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:14:04 -0700

The onset of action for intramuscular epinephrine is seconds compared to minutes for antihistamines (by any route) and hours for corticosteroids. Speed is so critical that Lester has re-ordered the traditional CABDEF acronym for the elements of ...
Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:37:30 -0700

Portman's data shows that paroxetine does indeed work to treat hot flashes, and the onset of action is certainly quick. It is faster than the effect of these drugs in treating depression. Typically you don't see an anti-depressant effect until at least ...
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Thu, 02 Oct 2014 21:41:15 -0700

Physician benefits may include increased control of patient compliance, rapid onset of action, and increased office efficiency. The EyeGate® II Delivery System has the potential to offer a non-invasive method of drug delivery as an alternative to the ...
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About one-third of people suffering from depression do not get relief from first-line antidepressant medications. Of significant concern is the fact that even when effective there is a delay in onset of action of two weeks or more, during which time ...
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Thu, 02 Oct 2014 09:12:09 -0700

"Given the indication of breakthrough pain in opioid-tolerant cancer patients, the five-minute onset of action is important as is the ease of administration and broad dosing options," Stanicky wrote, estimating peak annual sales of $500 million. He ...
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Fri, 19 Sep 2014 05:56:15 -0700

Stendra has the most rapid onset of action. Since planning and timing of sexual encounters is not predictable for many, there is a very good reason to speculate that Stendra will provide a better patient experience. Therefore, Stendra may well be the ...

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