By definition of US law, drugs are characterized as any substances intended to diagnose, completely cure, alleviate symptoms, treat or prevent any disease, or to have a definite effect on the structure or function of the human body.
This is a comprehensive definition of a “drug”. A simpler, but sufficiently accurate definition of the term “drug” is “any chemical or biological substance that affects the body and the processes occurring in it”.
Some people misuse the word drug only to mean substances that produce a pleasant sensation. Throughout the history of mankind, the proper medical use of drugs has been accompanied by excessive and constant intake of mind-altering substances without medical need. Some drugs in this category may be used legally for medical purposes, when others may not.
In accordance with US law, drugs are divided into two categories:
Prescription drugs are drugs that can be safely used only under medical supervision. These drugs are only available with a prescription from a certified physician who is authorized by the relevant government to write prescriptions (for example, a doctor, dentist, orthopedist, nurse, doctor’s assistant or veterinarian).
OTC drugs are drugs whose safe use does not require doctor supervision (for example, aspirin). They are sold over the counter.
In the United States, decisions about which drugs can be dispensed only by prescription and which ones over-the-counter are made by the government agency, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Biologically active additives (for example, medicinal herbs and nutraceuticals) are products produced to supplement the diet. Products of this kind may contain vitamins, amino acids, minerals or other substances of plant origin (phytopreparations). Since dietary supplements do not belong to the category of drugs, their trade does not require FDA approval and they do not have to meet the same safety and efficacy standards as drugs. Although this product does not apply to medications, it can have the same effect on the body as medications. That is if they are taken improperly or in greater quantities, a certain kind of health problem may occur. Since these products do not comply with FDA standards for safety and effectiveness, claims to use them for the treatment of specific diseases are unauthorized.
Category: Health Care
Tags: drugs, over the counter, over the counter drugs