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Term: Prescription Drugs


A prescription drug is a medication that can be purchased or given out only with written instructions from a licensed healthcare provider, such as a doctor, dentist, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, to a pharmacist. These written instructions are known as a prescription.

Risks/ Side Effects:

A drug's prescribing information states what can go wrong when the drug is used. These risks can include:

  • What groups of patients should not use the drug because it may do them more harm than good
  • When the drug should not be used
  • Serious side effects
  • Side effects seen in special populations, such as children, pregnant women, or older patients
  • Commonly occurring side effects
  • The chance of the drug causing abuse or dependence
  • The chance of the drug causing withdrawal effects

Expiration Dates:
The expiration date, required in several countries, specifies the date the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of a drug. Most medications are still considered safe and potent up to 15 years after their expiration date according to an FDA study.

Generic Prescription Medications vs Brand Names:
Currently, most prescriptions written by health care practitioners will be filled at a pharmacy with a generic equivalent. Generics are identical in chemical structure to the brand name drug. The reason why most prescriptions are filled with generic equivalents is simple: generic medications cost less and work as well as the brand name drug. In most states, pharmacists are required by law to automatically substitute generic drugs for brand names drugs unless the health care practitioner writes "do not substitute" on the prescription, or the patient prefers the brand name drug.

Prescription Drug Abuse:

Prescription drug abuse can cause serious problems and addiction. Drug abuse can occur when a person takes a prescription drug that is not prescribed to them or taking it in dosages or reasons other than as it is prescribed. The most commonly abused classes of prescription drugs include, stimulants, depressants, and opioids.

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics:

In 2009, 16 million Americans age 12 and older had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant, or sedative for non-medical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. The NIDA-funded 2010 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 2.7% of 8th graders, 7.7% of 10th graders, and 8.0% of 12th graders had abused Vicodin and 2.1% of 8th graders, 4.6% of 10th graders, and 5.1% of 12th graders had abused OxyContin for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.

New Technological Advances:
With Practice Fusion’s e-prescribing technology, you can submit electronic prescriptions to more than 70,000 pharmacies in the U.S. at no cost. Available as a stand-alone feature or as part of a free, web-based EHR, eprescribing will reduce medication errors, increase practice efficiency and improve patient safety.

A web-based SMS reminder application used by medical professionals for medicine and prescription reminders.

Related Terminology:

Supplements: Something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole

Prescription Drug Labels:The term ``labeling'' means all labels and other written, printed, or graphic matter (1) upon any article or any of its containers or wrappers, or (2) accompanying such article.
Package Inserts:a document provided along with a prescription medication to provide additional information about that drug.

Dosage: the quantity of something that may be eaten by or administered to an organism, or that an organism may be exposed to.

Pharmacy: is the health profession that links the health sciences with the chemical substances and it is charged with ensuring the safe and effective use of pharmaceutical drugs.

Pharmaceuticals: Any chemical substances intended for use in the medical diagnosis, cure, treatment, or prevention of disease.

Pills: Referring to anything small and round for a specific dose of medicine.

Addiction: A chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain.

Withdrawal: Symptoms that occur after chronic use of a drug is reduced or stopped.

Dopamine: A brain chemical, classified as a neurotransmitter, found in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and pleasure.

Interesting Articles:
FDA Considers Expanding the Definition of Non Prescription Drugs
Prescription Drugs Cause Nutrient Depletion
Prescription drugs kill 6200% more Americans than homicidal shootin

Future of Prescription Drug Monitoring Database Headed for Legislative Battle


National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Monitoring the Future


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