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10 Differences Between Prescription and Over the Counter Drugs

prescription and over the counter drugs

Medication Matters in the Modern World

The pharmaceutical industry has become a predominant part of many Americans’ lives. We turn to prescription and over the counter drugs in our greatest time of need. Whether we are feeling ill, experiencing pain or discomfort, or have a physical or mental health condition that requires medical treatment, medications have been developed to provide comfort and relief from the symptoms and side effects of many medical conditions.

There are different classifications of drugs that are provided, including over the counter medications and prescription medications. In pharmacies, some of the most frequently asked questions are centered around the differences between prescription and over the counter drugs. While both have properties in them that are used to treat medical conditions and mental health conditions, the federal government classifies them differently due to the difference between over the counter and prescription medications. 

Recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime.

The 10 Differences Between Over the Counter and Prescription Medications

  1. In order to receive a prescription drug, you need to meet with your doctor or healthcare provider first. When you meet with your doctor, you will speak with them about the symptoms and side effects that you are experiencing from a medical condition or ailment. Your doctor or healthcare provider will assess your medical concern and determine if an appropriate medical treatment would be the use of a prescription drug that would assist in alleviating your medical condition and symptoms. 
  2. Over the counter drugs do not require a prescription from a healthcare provider or doctor. Individuals are able to visit a pharmacy or store and purchase the over the counter medications that they require and are identified to help in treating the medical condition or ailment.
  3. Prescription medications are prescribed for one person only and intended for only the person that medication is prescribed to. The prescription drug will have a label with the dosage form that identifies the person who is supposed to use it and at what quantity and frequency it is to be used. Over the counter drugs, meanwhile, can be used by any person that is experiencing the ailments or side effects that the drug is intended to treat. 
  4. Prescription drugs are regulated through the Food and Drug Administration through the new drug application process. This is a formal step that prescription drug manufacturers will take to ensure that the FDA will approve the production of the prescription drug based on the fact that it has passed the animal and human data analysis that proves that the drug is safe and effective.
  5. Non-prescription drugs or over the counter drugs are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration through OTC drug monographs. A drug monograph will include the active ingredients, doses, formulations, and labels acceptable for the general public’s use. Drug monographs need to be updated regularly to continue to have approval from the FDA. 
  6. Over the counter drugs can include herbal medicine, such as vitamins, essential oils or minerals. 
  7. Over the counter medications are typically inexpensive as they are used to treat simple ailments, whereas prescription medications are often more expensive because they are specifically designed to treat certain medical conditions.
  8. Over the counter drugs are not patented by a certain company. The formula to create these products is made public and multiple companies will produce similar products with the same active ingredients to sell within pharmacies and stores.
  9. Prescription drugs are a patent of a specific company, allowing the pharmaceutical company to be the sole producer of the prescription medications and give them the power to control the cost of the medicine and keep its active ingredients confidential. 
  10. As per the Food and Drug Administration, over the counter drugs are deemed to work safely and effectively with no concerns about adverse effects. Prescription drugs are deemed to be under a therapeutic strength and can run the risk of serious adverse effects and reactions.

If you have any concerns or questions about your use of over the counter medications and prescription drugs, it is important to speak with your healthcare providers and pharmacist to ensure your overall health and well-being.

What are the Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is the incorrect or unintended use of prescription medications. Most commonly, this involves opioids, benzodiazepines or anti-anxiety drugs.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in America and it can exact devastating tolls on users and their loved ones. But there are some signs of abuse to watch for, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Stealing or selling prescriptions.
  • Changes to sleep habits.
  • Hostility, mood swings or confusion.
  • Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor or healthcare provider.
  • Poor decision-making and unusual high or low energy.
  • Taking higher doses than intended by the prescription.

Recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime.

Magnolia Recovery of Los Angeles Can Help with Prescription Drug Abuse

If you or a loved one has a problem with drug abuse, whether it’s over the counter or prescription medications, it’s important to get help and address the issue.

Experienced professionals are an important part of this journey as clients start on the road to recovery and embracing a healthier life, and the team at Magnolia Recovery of Los Angeles is ready to help today.

Magnolia Recovery offers the care and level of service you need for drug and alcohol addiction treatment, whether it’s medical detox, inpatient rehab, outpatient care and more. Treatment plans are flexible and tailored to the individual, not implemented as a rigid one-size-fits-all strategy — and that means we can help anyone, no matter where they are in their journey to recovery.

The Magnolia team is ready and available 24/7 to take your call at (818) 431-2224. Don’t wait — call today and get the right help.

  • As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.

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Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. Before making any decisions on your physical or mental health, please consult your doctor. The staff at Magnolia Recovery Center will work with our patients on a custom diagnosis and care plan. Specific medical advice will be provided to our patients while in our care.