A drug, broadly speaking, is any chemical substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function.[5] There is no single, precise definition, as there are different meanings in drug control law, government regulations, medicine, and colloquial usage.[6]
pharmacology, Dictionary.com defines a drug as "a chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or diagnosis of disease or used to otherwise enhance physical or mental well-being."[6] Drugs may be prescribed for a limited duration, or on a regular basis for chronic disorders.[7]
Recreational drugs are chemical substances that affect the central nervous system, such as opioids or hallucinogens.[7] They may be used for perceived beneficial effects on perception, consciousness, personality, and behavior.[7][8] Some drugs can cause addiction and habituation.[8]

Drugs are usually distinguished from endogenous biochemicals by being introduced from outside the organism.[citation needed] For example, insulin is a hormone that is synthesized in the body; it is called a hormone when it is synthesized by the pancreas inside the body, but if it is introduced into the body from outside, it is called a drug.[citation needed]
Many natural substances such as
beers, wines, and some mushrooms, blur the line between food and drugs, as when ingested they affect the functioning of both mind and body.
A medication or medicine is a drug taken to cure and/or ameliorate any symptoms of an illness or medical condition, or may be used as preventive medicine that has future benefits but does not treat any existing or pre-existing diseases or symptoms.
Dispensing of medication is often regulated by
governments into three categories — over-the-counter (OTC) medications, which are available in pharmacies and supermarkets without special restrictions, behind-the-counter (BTC), which are dispensed by a pharmacist without needing a doctor's prescription, and Prescription only medicines (POM), which must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional, usually a physician.[citation needed]
In the UK, BTC medicines are called pharmacy medicines which can only be sold in registered pharmacies, by or under the supervision of a pharmacist, these medications are designated by the letter P on the label,[9] the precise distinction between OTC and prescription drugs depends on the legal jurisdiction.[citation needed]

Medications are typically produced by pharmaceutical companies and are often patented to give the developer exclusive rights to produce them, but they can also be derived from naturally occurring substance in plants called herbal medicine.[citation needed] Those that are not patented (or with expired patents) are called generic drugs since they can be produced by other companies without restrictions or licenses from the patent holder.


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