Let's Start with Basic Knowledge about Pharmaceutical Drugs
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Medications may be divided into over-the-counter drugs (OTC)
which may be available without special restrictions, and prescription only medicine(POM), which must be prescribed
by a licensed medical practitioner. The precise distinction between OTC and prescription depends on the legal
jurisdiction. A third category, behind-the-counter medications (BTMs), is implemented in some jurisdictions. BTMs
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.
A medication is a licensed chemical drugs taken to cure, or
reduce symptoms of an illness or medical condition. Medications are generally divided into two groups:
over-the-counter (OTC) medications, which are available without special restrictions, and prescription only
medicines (POM), which must be prescribed by a physician. Most OTC medications are generally considered to be
safe enough that most persons will not hurt themselves accidentally by taking them as instructed.
A prescription drug is a licensed medicine that is regulated by
legislation to require a prescription before it can be obtained. Since new discoveries and developments in
medicine and health care have a direct influence on the medical assistant's professional duties and
responsibilities learning and understanding of basic pharmacology is very important.
Prescription drugs are authorized by doctors, though physician
assistants and nurse practitioners do an increasing amount of drug prescribing. Medical assistants are NOT
authorized to prescribe drugs, but often they are asked to write out prescriptions on the authorizing doctor's
prescription pad for the doctor to sign, or call in prescribed medications to the pharmacy as ordered. At
times, the doctor will ask a medical assistant to administer a certain dose of a drug to a patient while being
seen at the office.
Medical Assistants Who Administer Medications
Safe and effective drug therapy requires more of a medical assistant than simply handing over a prescription, or
administering a to a patient. They must be able to explain the use of medications, possible interactions, and
typical and abnormal reactions in a way the patient understands, and know the proper way of recording these
medications into the patient's chart.
They also ensure that the physician is aware of all medications, both, prescription and OTC that the patient is
taking, and know how to spell medication names, numerals, dosage units of measure, and abbreviations. One simple
way to prepare for these responsibilities is to read the package inserts and drug labels that accompany all
medications, whether they are drugs from drug company representatives (drug-reps), or drugs ordered by the
Another excellent source of information is the Physician's Desk Reference, or PDR, which most medical offices
receive free of charge every year and be aware of office policies and procedures. And of course... partaking
in professional continuing education programs and courses.
Laws and Prohibitions
The International Narcotics Control Board of the United Nations imposes a world law of prohibition of certain
medications. They publish a lengthy list of chemicals and plants whose trade and consumption (where applicable) is
forbidden. OTC medications are sold without restriction as they are considered safe enough that most people will
not hurt themselves accidentally by taking it as instructed. Many countries, such as the United Kingdom have a
third category of pharmacy medicines which can only be sold in registered pharmacies by or under the supervision of
For patented medications (brand name drugs), countries may have certain mandatory licensing programs which
compel, in certain situations, a medication's owner to contract with other agents to manufacture the drug. Such
programs may deal with the contingency of a lack of medication in the event of a serious epidemic of disease, or
may be part of efforts to ensure that disease treating drugs, such as AIDS drugs, are available to countries which
cannot afford the drug owner's price."