The term "medications" or commonly known as "medicines" are a general term used to refer to any drug or agent taken by a person to medically improve any symptoms of illness or medical conditions. These medications may also be taken presently to prevent future illnesses and not necessarily ameliorate pre-existing illnesses in the host.
The practice of dispensing medications are actively being regulated by the government agency - the Food and Drug Authority (USFDA). Dispensed medications are classically classified into three categories: The over the counter (OTC) drugs - referring to the medications that could be bought by the customer over the counter without the need for any prescriptions from the doctor, the Behind the counter (BTC) drugs encompasses drugs that are not outwardly displayed but may be safely dispensed the pharmacist without the need for doctor's prescriptions, and the prescription only medications (POM) that are strictly dispensed upon doctor's prescriptions only.
The different medications produced by the different drug companies are usually patented which give due rights for the manufacturer to exclusively produce and distribute them. Medications with expired patents may be massed produced without brand names and are often referred to as "Generics" medications. Generics drugs are often produced and manufactured without any legal burden on patent laws.
The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification (ATC) is one of the most comprehensive and elaborate means to classify therapeutic drugs. Another classification of therapeutic drugs depends on its topology or the study of a drug's mode of action, route of administration, pharmacologic activity, biologic system effects, and therapeutic effects.
The route of administration of a drug refers to how the drug is delivered to the body. It can be delivered by enteral or orally (through the mouth), intravenous or parenteral (injected to the circulatory system through a vein), topically (superficially on the skin), intranasal (through the nasal mucosa), inhalation (through the respiratory system), and rectally (through the anus). The drug delivery for oral medications can be given either tablet form, capsule form, or pill forms.
In the different countries of the world, drugs distribution is usually regulated by a government administrative body. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme ensures that the National Health Services (NHS) can afford the medications for general population's usage. In Canada, the government agency - the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board regulates the drug pricing in the country by comparing the prospective prices to seven other countries if it is reasonably priced before it approves the prices proposed by the drug manufacturers. In the United States, the USFDA or the US Food and Drug Administration regulates quality and distribution of medications, but prices aren't regulated by juridical means.