Connect with us


Prescription And Non-Prescription Medicines: What’s The Difference?



The number of medications available at your local pharmacist is large and wide-ranging. Thanks to the development of medicine over the years, many conditions now have a specific medication indicated to treat them. For example, there are a number of pain relief treatments now available, of varying strengths, each designed to provide aid from varying degrees and different types of pain, and there are a host antibiotic medications that exist to combat different types of bacterial infection.

However, while some medicines can be purchased over the counter, others require patients to obtain a prescription from a qualified doctor before they can be issued. There are several reasons why some medicines require prior consultation:

Degree of illness

Milder pain relief treatments, such as paracetamol or lower strength ibuprofen, and medications that provide cold and flu relief, can in many cases be taken without prior medical consultation. The illnesses these products are used to treat tend to be less serious and will often clear up without assistance from a medical professional.

However, medications that treat more serious illnesses always require a prescription. If you have recently begun to suffer from a bacterial infection, severe pain, or other acute or chronic conditions, a doctor will want to identify this and ascertain which medication is a suitable course of treatment. Certain symptoms will often be indicative of a certain type of illness, in which a doctor will be qualified to classify and prescribe an appropriate medication. In some cases, a doctor may choose to refer a patient to a specialist, who may prescribe medicine themselves or even advise surgery.

Cases, where follow up consultation, is required

Most patients will recover from colds and headaches fairly quickly, but acute illnesses requiring prescription medication will sometimes require to follow up consultation – particularly in cases where symptoms persist after a course of prescription medication has been completed.

In these cases, a doctor may choose to repeat the course of medicine or prescribe an alternative. In many cases, chronic illnesses need regular monitoring, which is why medication used to treat these conditions often require periodic consultations and repeat prescriptions.

Risk of side effects

Although they should always be approached with caution, the risk of side effects related to over the counter medications tends to be fairly low, which is another reason why they are widely available without a prescription. Stronger medications on the other hand often carry a much higher risk, which is why a prescription is required to obtain them.

This usually applies to those medications which treat severe pain relief, such as tramadol, or treatments that are applied to medicate certain acute or chronic illnesses. In these cases, a prescription is necessary as a doctor will be required to take into account a patient’s allergies and medical history, and ensure that the medication is suitable for them to take before prescribing it.