April 1, 2013

What is a Drug?

Hi, my name is Emerald Robinson, and in this “What is” video, we’re going to ask the question, “What is pharmaceutical drug?”

Pharmaceutical drugs, more commonly called “medicines” or “medications,” are any chemical substances used to prevent, cure, determine the cause of, or relieve the symptoms of a disease or illness.

There are many ways to classify pharmaceutical drugs, and, in turn, literally hundreds of groups of medications. But we can break all medicines down into two large categories:  prescription and over the counter.

Prescription pharmaceutical drugs are any drugs that require a prescription, that is, a written order from a doctor, dentist, veterinarian, or other licensed medical practitioner. These professionals are able to prescribe drugs because they know how different medicines interact with one another, and how much of each medicine will help a patient feel better.

Prescriptions are filled by other professionals called “Pharmacists,” who work closely with doctors and patients to ensure that the right dose is given to the patient and that the patient understands how to take the drug properly. Prescription drugs are sometimes represented by “Rx.”

Over the counter, or, “OTC” pharmaceutical drugs are medicines that can be bought without a prescription. These medicines can be safely used by patients who follow the directions provided by the drug’s maker. Common examples of OTC drugs are aspirin, cough medicines, and antacids.

Pharmaceutical drugs are administered, or given, to patients in many different ways. Some of the most familiar forms of pharmaceutical drugs are pills and capsules, but medicines are also administered through injection or by i.v., directly into a vein. Other examples include eye and ear drops, and creams and ointments.

There is no question that pharmaceutical drugs have improved the health of humans throughout history. Antibiotics like penicillin and drugs used to combat malaria have saved hundreds of millions of lives all over the world.

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