1. Health

Prescription Drug


Updated August 28, 2008

Definition: A prescription drug is a medication that can be purchased or given out only with written instructions from a licensed healthcare provider, such as a doctor, dentist, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, to a pharmacist. These written instructions are known as a prescription.

Drugs that are available without a prescription are know as over-the-counter drugs.

Learn more about prescriptions:
Understanding Your Doctor's Prescription
Also Known As: prescription medications
There are more than 5,000 prescription drugs available in the United States. Some common examples are Lipitor (atorvastatin), Advair (fluticasone and salmeterol) and Paxil (paroxetine).

To learn more about your specific medication, use Drugs A to Z.

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