Prescription drugs are drugs that are issued under prescription from a medical practitioner. The need to have a prescription before the drugs are acquired is usually applied in order to prevent illegal distribution, and effective use of such medicine.
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Unlike prescription drugs, Over-The-Counter drugs can be acquired without a prescription and are readily sold to anybody in the pharmaceuticals. Prescription normally entails giving out information about the use of the drugs to the consumer, and only authorized medical practitioners are allowed by law to give prescription drugs.
Different countries have different licensing bodies which carry out the task of ensuring that prescription drugs are used correctly and responsibly. In the United States of America, the Federal Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987 is the piece of legislation that deals with prescription drugs. This law is enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
There are many ways in which prescription to a drug can be obtained. Usually, prescription drugs are packed with written leaflets called the consumer medicine information (CMI), giving the information on the use of the drugs.
This information includes the name of medicine, its preparation, dosage, side effects warnings among other medication aspects. In each country, the registered medical practitioners are allowed by law to make prescriptions to such drugs. In the America, Medical practitioners, dentists, veterinarians, and optometrists are allowed to give and prescribe prescription drugs, but only registered pharmaceutical companies are allowed to make and distribute prescription drugs.
The use of prescription drugs, which are also referred to as Rx drugs has been a major concern in many parts of the world including the United States of America. The concern has been largely due to abuse of prescription drugs which is a phenomenon that has acquired an ever rising trend.
Volkow (2005, para.1) indicates that, some concerning trends can be seen among older adults, who are at a higher risk of being involved in prescription drugs abuse. It is also evident that an estimate of 48 million U.S.A nationals of 12 years of age and above had used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in their life time.
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Use of prescription drugs
Prescription medications such as Opioid pain killers, central nervous system depressants and stimulants are usually used in treatment of some health disorders, despite their threat when abused.
Pain killers are administered to patients with chronic pain. Tranquilizers are administered to reduce anxiety and treat problems associated with sleep disorders; while stimulants are prescribed to people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to assist them to be attentive (NIDA InfoFacts, 2009, para.1).
It has been found that, many prescription drugs are abused either by the people for whom the drugs were prescribed or by other people who do not deserve their use.
Drug abuse is described as use of a drug by persons other than the patient to whom the medication was prescribed, or use in a manner, or dosage different from that which was prescribed. Prescription drugs as well as Over-the- counter Medicines can produce adverse health effects including addiction if they are abused.
Medline plus (2009, para.1) on prescription drug abuse, estimates that, 20 percent of people in the United States of America have used prescription drugs for other reasons other than the one they were prescribed for.
Researches have been done in America by different bodies trying to find out the causes of such an unusual phenomena and the extent of their effect. The abuse of prescription drugs especially among the youth is as a major concern in resent times as the abuse of illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroine and marijuana.
The resent phenomena in the trend of prescription drug abuse in America as captured in the National Prescription Drug Threat Assessment report (2009, p 6) shows that the legitimate distribution of pain killers have a major contribution to the increase of the abuse. Many young people in the society can readily access this drug.
It estimates that 56.7 percent of the young people found with the drugs had acquired the them from either a friend or a relative, and that 81 percent of these cases were drugs which were obtained from a registered medical practitioners. This fact leads to a conclusion that, many stakeholders in the society have contributed to the increase in diversion of use of the prescription drugs.
The rise in prescription drug consumption among the young people in the United States of America has been cited with the perception that prescription drugs are a safer unlike the illegal drugs. Also, the fact that these drugs are readily available to people also contributes to this phenomenon (Volkow, 2009, Para 2)
Dangers in prescription drugs abuse
There are serious health and social risks that are related to abuse of prescribed drugs. An overdose of prescription drug or over-the-counter painkillers or depressants can cause breathing difficulties that can lead even to death. Due to addiction, people using stimulants have been reported to be hostile, and have high chance to develop heart failure or fatal seizures.
Depressants have also been found to cause subtle effects on driving skills, ability to make sound judgment and memory effect. Abuse of prescription drugs can cause addiction; sedatives can result to loss of memory; stimulants can cause hallucination and seizure tremors; while opioid can affect menstrual periods and fertility (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2008, Para. 2).
Efforts to curb prescription drug abuse in America
Every effort is being done by the government in trying to reduce the trend witnessed in the abuse of prescription drugs.
Various campaigns have been launched to discourage the American population against abuse of prescription drugs, the resent one being the ‘push in to end prescription drug advertisements’ targeting consumers with an aim of reducing the demand for such drugs.
In addition, such a drive aims at preventing misleading information from reaching the consumers through the Direct to Consumer (DTC) advertisements where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is setting up new regulations to control the advertisement of such prescription drugs.
The observed increasing trend of abuse of prescription drugs among American nationals is a contribution of many factors. It is a phenomenon that requires joint efforts, both individually and collectively, if any success is to be realized. Parents should play their part in instilling moral behavior to their children as well as guiding and counseling their children.
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The government should also make sure that the distribution of such drugs is controlled by use of both legislative aspects as well as monitoring of their distribution. Medical practitioners who are involved in illegal distribution of such drugs should be discouraged by putting in place stiff penalties to discourage them. Strict measures and procedures will effectively influence the habit of consumers and help in curbing prescription drug abuse.
Volkow, Nora D. “Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction”. National Institute on Drug Abuse: Research Report. 2009.
NIDA Info facts. “NIDA Info facts: Prescription and Over-The-Counter Medications”. NIDA: The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction. 2009.
National Prescription Drug Threat Assessment. “National Prescription Drug Threat Assessment 2009”. National Drug Intelligent Centre.
Medline plus. “Prescription Drug Abuse” Medline Plus: Trusted Health Information for You. 2009.
Mayo clinic stuff. “prescription drugs abuse”. Prescription Drug Abuse. 2008.