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File:Assorted pharmaceuticals by LadyofProcrastination.jpg

Assorted medications

Drug therapy or medication is a medicine, drug or other substance used to prevent or cure disease or to relieve pain. Medication is often used to mean the act of administering medicine. Other synonyms include pharmacotherapy, pharmacotherapeutics and clinical pharmacology. Most drugs for drug therapy are prescription drugs obtained from a prescribing practitioner.


A medication is a drug taken to cure and reduce any symptoms of an illness or medical condition, or may be used as preventive medicine that has future benefits but does not treat any existing or pre-existing diseases or symptoms. Dispensing of medication is often regulated by the government into three categories — over the counter (OTC) medications, which are available in pharmacies and supermarket's without special restrictions, behind the counter (BTC), which are dispensed by a pharmacist without needing a doctor's prescription, and Prescription only medicines (POM), which must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional, usually a physician.

Most OTC medications are generally considered to be safe enough that most people will not hurt themselves if they are taken as instructed. In UK, BTC medicine is called pharmacy medicines which can only be sold in registered pharmacies, by or under the supervision of a pharmacist. However, the precise distinction between OTC and prescription depends on the legal jurisdiction.

Medications are typically produced by pharmaceutical companies and are often patented to protect their exclusive rights to produce them, but they can also be derived from naturally occurring substance in plants called herbal medicine. Those that are not patented (or with expired patents) are called generic drugs since they can be produced by other companies without restrictions or licenses from the patent holder.

Drugs, both medications and recreational can be administered in a number of ways,

  • Orally, as a liquid or solid (pill), that is absorbed through the gut.
  • Inhaled, as a vapour.
  • Injected as a liquid either intramuscular or intravenous.
  • Rectally as a pill, that is absorbed by the colon.
  • Bolus, a substance into the stomach to dissolve slowly.

Many drugs can be administered in a variety of ways.

See also


External links

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