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Medications can be classified in various ways,www.epgonline.org database of prescription pharmaceutical products including drug classifications  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:
- Antipyretics: reducing fever (pyrexia/pyresis)
- Analgesics: reducing pain (painkillers)
- Antimalarial drugs: treating malaria
- Antibiotics: inhibiting germ growth
- Antiseptics: prevention of germ growth near burns, cuts and wounds
Types of medications (type of pharmacotherapy)
For the gastrointestinal tract (digestive system)
- Upper digestive tract: antacids, reflux suppressants, antiflatulents, antidopaminergics, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), H2-receptor antagonistss, cytoprotectants, prostaglandin analogues
- Lower digestive tract: laxatives, antispasmodics, antidiarrhoeals, bile acid sequestrants, opioid
For the cardiovascular system
- General: β-receptor blockers ("beta blockers"), calcium channel blockers, diuretics, cardiac glycosides, antiarrhythmics, nitrate, antianginals, vasoconstrictors, vasodilators, peripheral activators
- Affecting blood pressure (antihypertensive drugs): ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, α blockers
- Coagulation: anticoagulants, heparin, antiplatelet drugs, fibrinolytics, anti-hemophilic factors, haemostatic drugs
- Atherosclerosis/cholesterol inhibitors: hypolipidaemic agents, statins.
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)
For musculo-skeletal disorders
For the eye
- General: adrenergic neurone blocker, astringent, ocular lubricant
- Diagnostic: topical anesthetics, sympathomimetics, parasympatholytics, mydriatics, cycloplegics
- Anti-bacterial: antibiotics, topical antibiotics, sulfa drugs, aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones
- Antiviral drug:
- Anti-fungal: imidazoles, polyenes
- Anti-inflammatory: NSAIDs, corticosteroids
- Anti-allergy: mast cell inhibitors
- Anti-glaucoma: adrenergic agonists, beta-blockers, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors/hyperosmotics, cholinergics, miotics, parasympathomimetics, prostaglandin agonists/prostaglandin inhibitors. nitroglycerin
For the ear, nose and oropharynx
For the respiratory system
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 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
For the immune system
Euthanasia is not permitted by law in many countries, and consequently medicines will not be licensed for this use in those countries.
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.
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|
|Budesonide||Pulmicort/Rhinocort||AstraZeneca||1.3 (2003) (plus some fraction of the $0.6bn sales of Symbicort)|
- Active ingredient
- Child-resistant packaging
- Classification of Pharmaco-Therapeutic Referrals
- Food Technology
- List of drugs
- List of World Health Organization Essential Medicines
- Medical prescription
- Medicinal chemistry
- Patient safety
- Pharmaceutical company
- Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the environment
- Prescription drug
- Small molecule
- Use of biotechnology in pharmaceutical manufacturing
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