Over-the-counter Drugs vs. Prescription Drugs
There are two general classifications of drugs: prescription only and over-the-counter.
In order to obtain a prescription drug, you must receive a legitimate prescription from a medical professional. To get this prescription you must visit a medical professional for a diagnosis, as these drugs are heavily regulated, they also are typically monitored by the prescriber to ensure that the prescription drug is working adequately and safely.
The use of prescription drugs are typically for the individual person to treat a type of condition and must be obtained through speaking to a pharmacist to get the specific drug prescribed. Prescription drugs must pass through many clinical trial phases, approved by the FDA, and monitored for safety and side effects even after the drug is on the market.
Over-the-counter drugs are easier to get, you do not need a prescription, you just need to purchase it off of a store shelf. You do not need to consult your doctor or a pharmacist. OTC medications are not intended for a specific individual, although depending on the medication, such as creams, eye drops or nasal sprays, the user may want to be the only consumer of the medication.
Just like prescription drugs, OTC drugs are monitored by the FDA, but it is not as strict of a process. Manufacturers are required to make drugs only based on a specific formula with regards to the strength of the drug and they must have FDA approved labeling and FDA specific dosage to be on the market.
Although OTC drugs are available without consulting with a prescriber or pharmacist, the patient needs to be aware these drugs still carry a risk. Some OTC drugs could cause drug interactions with prescription medications or cause more adverse effects. It is important to mention to a prescriber or pharmacist about all of the OTC drugs being used and to follow the recommended dosing instructions on the label.
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