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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


A medication, medicine or drug is any substance or combination of substances administered to human beings or animals to treat or prevent disease; alternatively to assist in medical diagnosis. Commercial medications are produced by pharmaceutical companies and are often patented. Copies of former patented drugs are called generic drugs.


Medication can be usually classified in various ways, e.g. by its chemical properties, mode of administration, or biological system affected. An elaborate and widely used classification system is the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System(ATC system).

Types of medication

For the gastrointestinal tract or digestive system

For the cardiovascular system

For the central nervous system

hypnotic, anaesthetics, antipsychotic, antidepressant (including tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitor, lithium salt, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), anti-emetic, anticonvulsant and antiepileptic, anxiolytic, barbiturate, movement disorder drug, stimulant (including amphetamines), benzodiazepine, cyclopyrrolone, dopamine antagonist, antihistamine, cholinergic, anticholinergic, emetic, cannabinoids, 5-HT antagonist

For pain & consciousness (analgesic drugs)

The main classes of painkillers are NSAIDs, opioids and various orphans such as paracetamol, tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants.

For musculo-skeletal disorders

NSAIDs (including COX-2 selective inhibitors), muscle relaxant, neuromuscular drug

For the eye

For the ear, nose and oropharynx

sympathomimetic, antihistamine, anticholinergic, NSAIDs, steroid, antiseptic, local anesthetic, antifungal, cerumenolyti

For the respiratory system

bronchodilator, NSAIDs, anti-allergic, antitussive, mucolytic, decongestant
corticosteroid, beta-receptor antagonist, anticholinergic, steroid

For endocrine problems

androgen, antiandrogen, gonadotropin, corticosteroid, growth hormone, insulin, antidiabetic (sulfonylurea, biguanide/metformin, thiazolidinedione, insulin), thyroid hormones, antithyroid drugs, calcitonin, diphosponate, vasopressin analogues

For the reproductive system or urinary system

antifungal, alkalising agent, quinolones, antibiotic, cholinergic, anticholinergic, anticholinesterase, antispasmodic, 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, selective alpha-1 blocker, sildenafil

For contraception

For obstetrics and gynecology

NSAIDs, anticholinergic, haemostatic drug, antifibrinolytic, Hormone Replacement Therapy, bone regulator, beta-receptor agonist, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, LHRH
gamolenic acid, gonadotropin release inhibitor, progestogen, dopamine agonist, oestrogen, prostaglandin, gonadorelin, clomiphene, tamoxifen, Diethylstilbestrol

For the skin

emollient, anti-pruritic, antifungal, disinfectant, scabicide, pediculicide, tar products, vitamin A derivatives, vitamin D analogue, keratolytic, abrasive, systemic antibiotic, topical antibiotic, hormones, desloughing agent, exudate absorbent, fibrinolytic, proteolytic, sunscreen, antiperspirant, corticosteroid

For infections and infestations

antibiotic, antifungal, antileprotic, antituberculous drug, antimalarial, anthelmintic, amoebicide, antiviral, antiprotozoal

For immunology

vaccine, immunoglobulin, immunosuppressant, interferon, monoclonal antibody

For allergic disorders

anti-allergic, antihistamine, NSAIDs

For nutrition

tonic, iron preparation, electrolyte, parenteral nutritional supplement, vitamins, anti-obesity drug, anabolic drug, haematopoietic drug, food product drug

For neoplastic disorders

cytotoxic drug, sex hormones, aromatase inhibitor, somatostatin inhibitor, recombinant interleukins, G-CSF, erythropoietin

For diagnostics

contrast media

Legal Considerations

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.

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 a pharmacist.

Naming of drugs

It may be preferable to refer to drugs by their generic names rather than their brand names[1][2][3][4].

Other/related topics

Polypharmacy: suggests that multiple use of prescribed and non-prescribed medications, (use of 5 or more), can have adverse effects on the recipient.

Zoopharmacognosy: Animal usage of drugs and non-foods.

See also

External links

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Template:WikiDoc Sources

  1. Haas JS, Phillips KA, Gerstenberger EP, Seger AC (2005). "Potential savings from substituting generic drugs for brand-name drugs: medical expenditure panel survey, 1997-2000". Ann Intern Med. 142 (11): 891–7. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-142-11-200506070-00006. PMID 15941695.
  2. Summers A, Ruderman C, Leung FH, Slater M (2017). "Examining patterns in medication documentation of trade and generic names in an academic family practice training centre". BMC Med Educ. 17 (1): 175. doi:10.1186/s12909-017-1015-z. PMC 5610475. PMID 28938883.
  3. Steinman MA, Chren MM, Landefeld CS (2007). "What's in a name? Use of brand versus generic drug names in United States outpatient practice". J Gen Intern Med. 22 (5): 645–8. doi:10.1007/s11606-006-0074-3. PMC 1852907. PMID 17443372.
  4. Daily B. Generic drug names provide information for doctors, so why is Health Canada promoting the use of pharma brand names? Available at