Home     Definition    History    Examples    Medicine    Agriculture    Industrial    Environmental     Regulation     Learning        



A medication (also referred to as medicine, pharmaceutical drug, or simply drug) is a drug used to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. Drug therapy (pharmacotherapy) is an important part of the medical field and relies on the science of pharmacology for continual advancement and on pharmacy for appropriate management.

Drug use among elderly Americans has been studied; in a group of 2377 people with average age of 71 surveyed between 2005 and 2006, 84% took at least one prescription drug, 44% took at least one over-the-counter (OTC) drug, and 52% took at least one dietary supplement; in a group of 2245 elderly Americans (average age of 71) surveyed over the period 2010 2011, those percentages were 88%, 38%, and 64%.

Pharmaceuticals may also be described as "specialty", independent of other classifications, which is an ill-defined class of drugs that might be difficult to administer, require special handling during administration, require patient monitoring during and immediately after administration, have particular regulatory requirements restricting their use, and are generally expensive relative to other drugs.

NSAIDs, anticholinergics, haemostatic drugs, antifibrinolytics, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), bone regulators, beta-receptor agonists, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, LHRH gamolenic acid, gonadotropin release inhibitor, progestogen, dopamine agonists, oestrogen, prostaglandins, gonadorelin, clomiphene, tamoxifen, Diethylstilbestrol

Administration is the process by which a patient takes a medicine. There are three major categories of drug administration; enteral (via the human gastrointestinal tract), injection, and other (dermal, nasal, ophthalmic, otologic, and urogenital).

Historically, drugs were discovered through identifying the active ingredient from traditional remedies or by serendipitous discovery. Later chemical libraries of synthetic small molecules, natural products or extracts were screened in intact cells or whole organisms to identify substances that have a desirable therapeutic effect in a process known as classical pharmacology. Since sequencing of the human genome which allowed rapid cloning and synthesis of large quantities of purified proteins, it has become common practice to use high throughput screening of large compounds libraries against isolated biological targets which are hypothesized to be disease-modifying in a process known as reverse pharmacology. Hits from these screens are then tested in cells and then in animals for efficacy. Even more recently, scientists have been able to understand the shape of biological molecules at the atomic level, and to use that knowledge to design (see drug design) drug candidates.

Depending upon the jurisdiction, drugs may be divided into over-the-counter drugs (OTC) which may be available without special restrictions, and prescription drugs, which must be prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner in accordance with medical guidelines due to the risk of adverse effects and contraindications. The precise distinction between OTC and prescription depends on the legal jurisdiction. A third category, "behind-the-counter" drugs, is implemented in some jurisdictions. These do not require a prescription, but must be kept in the dispensary, not visible to the public, and only be sold by a pharmacist or pharmacy technician. Doctors may also prescribe prescription drugs for off-label use purposes which the drugs were not originally approved for by the regulatory agency. The Classification of Pharmaco-Therapeutic Referrals helps guide the referral process between pharmacists and doctors.