PTCB Exam PTCB Test Prep

Top 100 Facts to Know for the PTCB Exam!

Jul 10th, 2022
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Must-Know Facts for the 2022 PTCB Exam!

To succeed at the 2022 PTCB exam, students need to commit a lot of PTCB facts to memory. It requires an in-depth knowledge of:

  • Medications (40%)
  • Federal Requirements (12.5%)
  • Patient Safety and Quality Assurance (26.25%)
  • Order Entry and Processing (21.25%)

It’s a big ask – and many students have to try several times before they finally conquer the PTCB test. As with all exams, the more PTCB practice test questions you try, the better you learn about your strengths and weaknesses – and how to study, identify and transform those weaknesses into strengths. This way, you can plug any gaps in your knowledge and arrive fully prepared to meet the demands of the exam.

Below, we have put together a rapid revision study guide. Whilst it does not include all facts (as this is not possible!), it does intend to provide a comprehensive overview of many of the key facts that pharmacy technicians are expected to know for the PTCB test. Put simply, if you know most or all these facts, you can be confident that you will perform well on the day of your exam!

If you do not recognize most of these PTCB facts, do not worry.

If anything, it’s an eye-opener and should serve as motivation to help you study through the syllabus and build your core knowledge.

It takes time, but it’s worth it in the end.

Let’s get started!

Top 100 PTCB Facts!

  • Fluoroquinolones are an antibacterial drug class that end in the suffix – floxacin (eg. ciprofloxacin, moxifloxacin). Tendon damage and rupture is a notable side effect. Must avoid with multivalent ions such as calcium and iron.
  • H2 receptor antagonists are used to treat conditions that cause excess gastric acid production, such as dyspepsia (eg. famotidine).
  • Patients taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors should avoid foods that contain tyramine. This helps to prevent hypertensive crisis.
  • Inactive ingredients of a medicine are known as excipients. Examples include preservatives, flavoring agents, and coloring agents.
  • DEA Form 224 must be completed by pharmacies to be licensed to dispense controlled substances.
  • po’ is the pharmacy abbreviation for “taken orally”.
  • Polypharmacy refers to the concurrent use of multiple medicines at the same time.
  • iPLEDGE is the REMS (risk evaluation and mitigation strategy) guide for the drug, isotretinoin, because this anti-acne drug carries a high risk of birth defects.
  • The Beers’ list is a compilation of medicines that inform healthcare professionals of the risk that medicine may have to an older patient and what approach can/should be taken.
  • prn’ is the pharmacy abbreviation for “as needed”, and ‘ud’ is the pharmacy abbreviation for “as directed”.
  • 11 – the maximum number of refills permitted for non-controlled drugs.
  • Suspensions always contain a “shake well before use” label because particles suspended in the medicine can cake to the bottom, meaning that, if the medicine is not shaken, the patient does not receive an accurate dose of the medicine.
  • There are three parts to an NDC code – such as 00106-2315-45.
    • The first 5 digits of an NDC code refer to the drug manufacturer.
      The second set of 4 digits refers to the drug product/strength etc.
    • The final 2 digits refers to packaging size.
  • Auxiliary label are additional instructions on labels that inform the patient on the safe and effective use of a medicine. For example, “avoid sunlight”.
  • Side effects with tetracyclines include photosensitivity and tooth discoloration.
  • Pharmacies should complete an inventory of controlled substances every 2-years.
  • Green-leafy vegetables contain vitamin K, which opposes the anticoagulant effects of warfarin.
  • Varenicline and bupropion are drugs used to assist patients with smoking cessation.
  • ACE inhibitors are used in the treatment of hypertension and chronic heart failure. Side effects include a persistent dry cough and hyperkalemia (high potassium levels). Examples include ramipril, lisinopril, and perindopril.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) were a direct outcome of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1970. MSDS are forms completed by compound manufacturers that provide detailed commentary on
  • There are four parts to Medicare coverage:
    • Part A covers hospital insurance; Part B covers outpatient or medical insurance; whilst Part C allows private health insurance plans such as PPOs or HMOs to offer benefits. Part D of Medicare covers prescription drugs.
  • Vitamins B and C are water soluble. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble. Water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, and so need more regular replenishment via dietary sources compared to stored fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Statins work by inhibiting the enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase. Side effects with statins include muscle aches and pains, elevation of liver enzymes, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in at-risk patients. Statins are used to lower high blood cholesterol.
  • NSAIDs work by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase enzyme (COX) – reducing pain and inflammation. Examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and diclofenac.
  • DURs – or Drug Utilization Reviews – are reviews that analyse a patient profile to ensure that medications dispensed to a patient in the past were correct. It was mandated by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act 1990.
  • A tincture is a medicine that is made by dissolving in alcohol, therefore it has a high alcohol percentage. For example: iodine tincture.
  • Analgesics are medicines used to relieve pain. Examples include acetaminophen and morphine.
  • Alcohol USP refers to the use of 95% ethyl alcohol.
  • The DEA – or Drug Enforcement Administration – is responsible for enforcing laws relating to controlled substances.
  • The Orange Book is used to identify products that are therapeutically equivalent.
  • For a non-controlled substance prescription drug, the prescription is valid for up to 1-year from the date of issuance.
  • The subscription part of a prescription refers to instructions given to the pharmacist, such as the number of refills permitted, or whether a generic drug can be used in place of a branded drug.
  • ac’ is the pharmacy abbreviation for “before food”, whereas ‘pc’ is the pharmacy abbreviation for “after food”.
  • Protease inhibitors are used to combat HIV/AIDS. Examples include lopinavir, ritonavir, darunavir, and atazanavir.
  • Z-drugs are used for the short-term (fewer than 4-weeks) treatment of insomnia. Examples include zaleplon, zolpidem, and zopiclone.
  • DEA Form 41 is used to report destroyed controlled substances.
  • Colchicine and allopurinol are medicines used in the treatment of gout.
  • Beta-blockers always end in the suffix –lol. Examples include bisoprolol, metoprolol, and esmolol.
  • PDE5 inhibitors are used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Examples include tadalafil (Cialis) and sildenafil (Viagra).
  • All pharmacies are obliged by law to contain a copy of the United States Pharmacopeia.
  • DEA Form 222 is used when ordering both Schedule I and Schedule II medicines.
  • Antitussive drugs are used in the treatment of cough. Examples include codeine and dextromethorphan.
  • gtts is the pharmacy abbreviation for “drops”, such as eye drops.
  • Calcium channel blockers are used to treat hypertension and symptoms of stable angina. Examples include nifedipine, amlodipine, diltiazem, and verapamil.
  • Amber medicine containers are used to protect the medicine against the harmful effects of sunlight radiation.
  • There are three classes of FDA drug recall, with Class I being the most serious and Class III being the least serious.
  • Trituration is a process where tablets or other substances are ground down to a fine powder.
  • The Joint Commission (TJC) is the body tasked with the responsibility of accrediting and certifying healthcare organizations.
  • USP <800> sets standards in handling hazardous drugs for healthcare professionals, patients, and the environment.
  • Grapefruit juice interacts with many medicines, including many statins – inhibiting CYP enzymes and increasing the risk of serious adverse effects.
  • Intrathecal administration refers to administering a medicine into the spinal canal.
  • Pharmacokinetics refers to how an organism affects a drug – often summarized as ADME: Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion processes of a drug.
  • Pharmacodynamics talks about what a drug does to the body; the biochemical and physiological effects of the drug on the body. This is important when trying to establish the optimum dose of a medicine.
  • Half-life is defined as the time is takes for the total amount of drug in the body to reduce by 50 percent. For example – a drug has a half-life of 2-hours. After 2-hours of taking the medicine, 50% remains in the body. After 4-hours, only 25% remains and, after 6-hours, just 12.5% remains in the body.
  • Ibuprofen, an NSAID drug, is the active ingredient of the medicine, Advil, and acetaminophen is the active ingredient of Tylenol. Acetaminophen is not an NSAID, though it is an antipyretic – a drug that treats fever.
  • SSRIs are used in the treatment of major depressive disorder. Examples include paroxetine, sertraline, citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, and fluvoxamine. SSRIs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
  • HEPA filters within laminar flow hoods remove particles that are at least 0.3 microns in size.
  • Sharps containers can be identified as they are typically red in color.
  • 0.45% sodium chloride is abbreviated as ½ NS in compounding. In contrast, 0.22% sodium chloride is abbreviated as ¼ NS.
  • The purpose of the aseptic technique is to prevent microbial contamination. “Asepsis” is the state of being free from disease-causing microorganisms.
  • Ointments can be made using a technique called spatulation; using a spatula to evenly and homogenously mix two or more substances together. The mixture is combined against an even, flat, and smooth surface.
  • A Wedgwood mortar is an effective tool used to grind down and mix powders to form a uniform arrangement of active and non-active ingredient.
  • A 0.22-micron filter should be used when sterilizing an ophthalmic solution.
  • Purified water USP cannot be used when compounding a sterile product.
  • When gowning, the correct order is as follows: don shoe covers, then head/facial hair cover, then mask – then wash hands and forearms – then don the non-shedding gown.
  • Laminar flow hood air quality must be certified every 6 months.
  • Bisphosphonates are used in the treatment of osteoporosis. Examples include alendronic acid, pamidronate, and zoledronic acid.
  • The Joint Commission issue a Do Not Use list, which is a list of pharmacy abbreviations and acronyms that should be avoided as they may cause confusion and risk patient safety.
  • A Leur-Lok syringe should be used when compounding hazardous drugs.
  • OSHA mandates that workers in the healthcare setting are vaccinated against hepatitis B.
  • Before being used, a laminar flow hood should be turned on for at least 30-minutes.
  • Ototoxicity and nephrotoxicity are notable side effects of aminoglycoside antibacterial drugs such as gentamicin and tobramycin.
  • As a rule, the lower the needle gauge size, the larger the diameter.
  • Orphan drugs are used to treat a rare disease. Governments often provide financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs to treat rare diseases, known as orphan diseases.
  • 1 teaspoon = 5mL; 1 tablespoon = 15mL
    • 1 ounce = 28.3 grams
    • 1 kg = 1,000 grams
    • 1 L = 1,000 mL
    • 1 gram = 1,000 milligrams
    • 1 grain = 64.8 grams
    • 1 pound = 454 grams
    • 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
  • c’ is the pharmacy abbreviation for “with”, whereas ‘s’ is the pharmacy abbreviation for “without”.
  • When pulling up patient profiles, enter the patient’s full surname first followed by the first letter of the patient’s first name.
  • Schedule II drugs cannot be refilled. Schedule III-V drugs can be refilled a maximum of 5 times, and non-controlled refills are permitted up to 11 times.
  • Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the binding of GABA to the GABA A receptor; medicines used to treat a wide range of conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, and seizures. Examples include diazepam, midazolam, and temazepam and oxazepam.
  • Triptans are used in the treatment of migraine. Examples include sumatriptan and zolmitriptan.
  • HAART = Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy
    • Antiretroviral drugs are used in HAART to treat HIV/AIDS.
    • Examples of antiretroviral drugs: entry inhibitors, fusion inhibitors, integrase inhibitors, and reverse transcriptase inhibitors.
  • The one-handed scoop technique should be used if a needle needs to be recapped. To avoid an accidental needle stick injury, never recap a needle using both hands.
  • A Class III prescription balance must be certified on an annual basis.
  • When dealing with controlled substances, it is recommended to double-count the medicine prior to dispensing.
  • To prevent the risk of cross-contamination on counting trays, isopropyl alcohol should be used to clean counting trays.
  • There should be no more than 29 particles of 5 microns (or greater) in size within an ISO Class 5 environment.
  • Drugs used to treat urinary tract infections include trimethoprim, fosfomycin, and nitrofurantoin.
  • Examples of rapid-acting insulins (peak time – 1 hour) include insulin aspart, lispro, and glulisine.
    • Insulin detemir and insulin glargine are long-acting insulins.
    • Isophane insulin is an intermediate-acting insulin.
  • Proton-pump inhibitors are used to treat conditions caused by excess gastric acid production. Proton-pump inhibitors can be identified courtesy of the suffix -prazole. Examples include omeprazole, lansoprazole, and pantoprazole.
  • Cinchonism is a syndrome of side effects associated with the anti-malarial drug, quinine. These effects include fever, fatigue, visual disturbances, and deafness.
  • DEA Form 106 is used to report the theft or loss of a controlled substance.
  • Tall man lettering is used to reduce the error of confusing two drugs with one another based on how they sound or read. For example: prednisONE and prednisOLONE; or cycloSERINE and cycloSPORINE.
  • Beta-2 agonists are used in the treatment of asthma and COPD. Examples include albuterol, salmeterol, formoterol, and terbutaline.
  • Diuretics are used to promote water and electrolyte loss. There are various classes, including:
    • Loop diuretics – furosemide, bumetanide
    • Thiazide diuretics – hydrochlorothiazide
    • Potassium-sparing – amiloride, spironolactone
  • Antifungal drugs work by inhibiting ergosterol synthesis. Ergosterol is an important part of the fungal cell membrane. Azole antifungals – such as ketoconazole and clotrimazole – work by inhibiting ergosterol.
  • A decimal point should never follow whole numbers – such as 5.0. Instead, it must be 5 only. Similarly, a 0 is necessary where only a decimal point is present before a number – for example: 0.5 and never .5
  • An agonist binds to and activates a receptor. An antagonist binds to and inactivates a receptor. For example – beta-blockers act as antagonists at beta receptors, and beta-2 agonists activate beta-2 receptors which causes smooth muscle relaxation in the lungs to improve symptoms in patients with asthma and COPD.
  • Side effects of opioids include constipation, miosis, nausea, dizziness, euphoria, and respiratory depression. Opioids include medicines such as codeine, dihydrocodeine, tramadol, meperidine, and morphine. Opioids work by acting as agonists at mu-opioid receptors.
  • Metformin is a first-line drug used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, sold under the brand name, Glucophage. It belongs to the biguanide class of medicines.
  • Intravitreal drugs are administered through the eye, and buccal administered drugs are administered to the inside cheek.

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PTCB Test Prep Author


Elaine Walker

Elaine joined PTCB Test Prep in 2017, currently serving as the lead product development manager overseeing both course development and quality improvement. Mrs. Walker is a graduate of California State University and has worked as a pharmacy technician for over twenty years – with particular interests in pediatric pharmacy, extemporaneous compounding, and hospital pharmacy. Over the past 8-years, she has helped prepare thousands of students for the PTCB examination.