A prescription is actually part of a health-care program that covers the well being of individuals. Prescriptions are required to be written for specific ailments by a qualified practitioner who is licensed to prescribe these medications. Prescriptions can be written by dentists, nurse practitioners, psychologists or your doctor. Prescriptions are more than orders for medications; they can be prescriptions for services that need to be performed by a patient, caretaker, pharmacist, or nurse. You can get a prescription for automated equipment, wheelchairs or other walking devices. Prescriptions can also order clinical assessments, laboratory testing, and imaging studies.

In recent years prescriptions were sent to a pharmacist to actually be compounded. Now most prescriptions come as pre-packaged manufactured products and no mixing or pounding is required. A prescription is formally defined as a written order to a pharmacist that authorizes medications to be dispensed and instructions for the use of the prescription.

The high cost of prescription medications has led to the use of generic drugs which are required to have the same chemical attributes as name brand drugs. Generic drugs are lower in cost than a name brand medication and in order to receive a generic prescription, a medical practitioner must indicate on the prescription that a generic medication can be substituted.

Prescription medications can also be a source of advertising revenue for drug manufactures. In 1997 the FDA loosed the advertising regulations and allowed direct-consumer advertising of prescription drugs on television. Now there is a movement that requests these advertisements be taken off of public media. Doctors and pharmacists argue that if a consumer views an advertised medication, they can pressure their doctor into prescribing an expensive brand name medication rather than a more economical alternative.

When you pick up your prescription from the pharmacy, do you read the informational inserts that are included with prescriptions? Not many people do, but it would be wise if you ask your pharmacist for a summary of what chemicals are contained in the medication to avoid overdosing. For example, as regulated as the prescription drug industry is, you may find that many medications your doctor prescribes contain acetaminophen. If you use a prescription containing acetaminophen and add an over-the-counter acetaminophen medication to your dosage you are actually overdosing on acetaminophen. The consequences can be disastrous.

With the thousands of prescriptions that are dispensed on a daily basis communication between the patient, the doctor and the pharmacist is highly recommended. There are educational seminars and programs consumers should attend to learn more about prescription medications and their contents. It may not be possible to live without a particular prescription, but it might be comforting to know what chemical ingredients are in the pills and what the possible side effects are.


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