A prescription drug (also prescription medication or prescription medicine) is a licensed medicine that is regulated by legislation to require a medical prescription before it can be obtained. The term is used to distinguish it from over-the-counter drugs which can be obtained without a prescription. Different jurisdictions have different definitions of what constitutes a prescription drug.
"Rx" is often used as a short form for prescription drug in North America. It is an abbreviation for the Latin "recipe", an imperative form of "recipere", meaning "take".]citation needed[
A prescription (℞) is a health-care programme that governs the plan of care for an individual patient and is implemented by a qualified practitioner. A qualified practitioner might be a physician, dentist, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, psychologist, or other health care providers. Prescriptions may include orders to be performed by a patient, caretaker, nurse, pharmacist, physician, other therapist, or by automated equipment, such as an intravenous infusion pump. Formerly, prescriptions often included detailed instructions regarding compounding of medications but as medications have increasingly become pre-packaged manufactured products, the term "prescription" now usually refers to an order that a pharmacist dispense and that a patient take certain medications. Prescriptions have legal implications, as they may indicate that the prescriber takes responsibility for the clinical care of the patient and in particular for monitoring efficacy and safety. As medical practice has become increasingly complex, the scope of meaning of the term "prescription" has broadened to also include clinical assessments, laboratory tests, and imaging studies relevant to optimizing the safety or efficacy of medical treatment.
Prescriptions may be entered into an electronic medical record system and transmitted electronically to a pharmacy. Alternatively, a prescription may be handwritten on preprinted prescription forms that are assembled into pads, or printed onto similar forms using a computer printer. The content of a prescription includes the name and address of the prescribing provider and any other legal requirement such as a registration number (e.g. DEA Number in the United States). Unique for each prescription is the name of the patient. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the patient's name and address must also be recorded. Each prescription is dated and some jurisdictions may place a time limit on the prescription. In the past, prescriptions contained instructions for the pharmacist to use for compounding the pharmaceutical product but most prescriptions now specify pharmaceutical products that were manufactured and require little or no preparation by the pharmacist. Prescriptions also contain directions for the patient to follow when taking the drug. These directions are printed on the label of the pharmaceutical product.
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The pharmaceutical sciences are a group of interdisciplinary areas of study concerned with the design, action, delivery, disposition, inorganic, physical, biochemical and analytical biology (anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular biology), epidemiology, statistics, chemometrics, mathematics, physics, and chemical engineering, and applies their principles to the study of drugs.