Medicines

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Medicines are any substances given to a person or living organism to cause a certain effect, usually for a therapeutic or diagnostic purposes.

Classification

Medications can be classified in various ways,www.epgonline.org database of prescription pharmaceutical products including drug classifications [1] such as by chemical properties, mode or route of administration, biological system affected, or therapeutic effects. An elaborate and widely used classification system is the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System (ATC system). The World Health Organization keeps a list of essential medicines.

A sampling of classes of medicine includes:

  1. Antipyretics: reducing fever (pyrexia/pyresis)
  2. Analgesics: reducing pain (painkillers)
  3. Antimalarial drugs: treating malaria
  4. Antibiotics: inhibiting germ growth
  5. Antiseptics: prevention of germ growth near burns, cuts and wounds

Types of medications (type of pharmacotherapy)

For the gastrointestinal tract (digestive system)

For the cardiovascular system

For the central nervous system

Drugs affecting the central nervous system include: hypnotics, anaesthetics, antipsychotics, antidepressants (including tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, lithium salts, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)), antiemetics, anticonvulsants/antiepileptics, anxiolytics, barbiturates, movement disorder (e.g., Parkinson's disease) drugs, stimulants (including amphetamines), benzodiazepines, cyclopyrrolones, dopamine antagonists, antihistamines, cholinergics, anticholinergics, emetics, cannabinoids, and 5-HT (serotonin) antagonists.

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

The main categories of drugs for musculoskeletal disorders are: NSAIDs (including COX-2 selective inhibitors), muscle relaxants, neuromuscular drugs, and anticholinesterases.

For the eye

For the ear, nose and oropharynx

sympathomimetics, antihistamines, anticholinergics, NSAIDs, steroids, antiseptics, local anesthetics, antifungals, cerumenolyti

For the respiratory system

bronchodilators, NSAIDs, anti-allergics, antitussives, mucolytics, decongestants
corticosteroids, Beta2-adrenergic agonists, anticholinergics, steroids

For endocrine problems

androgens, antiandrogens, gonadotropin, corticosteroids, human growth hormone, insulin, antidiabetics (sulfonylureas, biguanides/metformin, thiazolidinediones, insulin), thyroid hormones, antithyroid drugs, calcitonin, diphosponate, vasopressin analogues

For the reproductive system or urinary system

antifungal, alkalising agents, quinolones, antibiotics, cholinergics, anticholinergics, anticholinesterases, antispasmodics, 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, selective alpha-1 blockers, sildenafils, fertility medications

For contraception

For obstetrics and gynecology

NSAIDs, anticholinergics, haemostatic drugs, antifibrinolytics, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), bone regulators, beta-receptor agonists, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, LHRH
gamolenic acid, gonadotropin release inhibitor, progestogen, dopamine agonists, oestrogen, prostaglandins, gonadorelin, clomiphene, tamoxifen, Diethylstilbestrol

For the skin

emollients, anti-pruritics, antifungals, disinfectants, scabicides, pediculicides, tar products, vitamin A derivatives, vitamin D analogues, keratolytics, abrasives, systemic antibiotics, topical antibiotics, hormones, desloughing agents, exudate absorbents, fibrinolytics, proteolytics, sunscreens, antiperspirants, corticosteroids

For infections and infestations

antibiotics, antifungals, antileprotics, antituberculous drugs, antimalarials, anthelmintics, amoebicides, antivirals, antiprotozoals

For the immune system

vaccines, immunoglobulins, immunosuppressants, interferons, monoclonal antibodies

For allergic disorders

anti-allergics, antihistamines, NSAIDs

For nutrition

tonics, iron preparations, electrolytes, parenteral nutritional supplements, vitamins, anti-obesity drugs, anabolic drugs, haematopoietic drugs, food product drugs

For neoplastic disorders

cytotoxic drugs, therapeutic antibodies, sex hormones, aromatase inhibitors, somatostatin inhibitors, recombinant interleukins, G-CSF, erythropoietin

For diagnostics

contrast media

For euthanasia

An euthanaticum is used for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Euthanasia is not permitted by law in many countries, and consequently medicines will not be licensed for this use in those countries.

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. 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.

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.

For patented medications, 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.

In some countries, government-regulated cannabis is available by prescription.

Blockbuster drug

A blockbuster drug is a drug generating more than $1 billion of revenue for its owner each year. ""Blockbuster medicine" is defined as being one which achieves annual revenues of over US$ 1 billion at global level." in European Commission, Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry, Preliminary Report (DG Competition Staff Working Paper), 28 November 2008, page 17 (pdf, 1.95 MB).

A recent report from Urch Publishing estimated that about one third of the pharma market by value is accounted for by blockbusters. About 100 products are blockbusters. The top seller was Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering medication marketed by Pfizer with sales of $12.2 billion.

Leading blockbuster drugs

Drug Trade name Company SalesPharmaceutical Market Trends, 2006-2010, from Urch PublishingBlockbuster Drugs 2006: Executive Overview, from Report Buyer (billion $), year
Atorvastatin Lipitor Pfizer 12 (2007) <
Clopidogrel Plavix Bristol-Myers Squibb and sanofi-aventis 5.9 (2005)
Enoxaparin Lovenox or Clexane Sanofi-Aventis
Celecoxib Celebrex Pfizer 2.3 (2007)
Omeprazole Losec/Prilosec AstraZeneca 2.6 (2004)
Esomeprazole Nexium AstraZeneca 3.3 (2003)
Fexofenadine Telfast/Allegra Aventis 1.87 (2004)
Quetiapine Seroquel AstraZeneca 1.5 (2003)
Metoprolol Seloken/Toprol AstraZeneca 1.3 (2003)
Budesonide Pulmicort/Rhinocort AstraZeneca 1.3 (2003) (plus some fraction of the $0.6bn sales of Symbicort)

See also

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Also see


Medical dictionary
Medical dictionary

Comprehensive dictionary of medicine | Encyclopedia of medicine | List of medicines A-Z | List of medical terms | Cancer terms | Cancer drugs | Health topics | Rare diseases

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