Difference Between Behind the Counter, Off the Shelf, and Prescription Drugs
Author: Disabled World : Contact: Disabled World
Published: 2017-05-15 : (Rev. 2017-05-26)
Synopsis and Key Points:
Article explains the pharmacy difference between availability of prescription drugs, behind the counter, and over the counter medications.
List of differences between purchasing prescription drugs, behind the counter, and over the counter medications.
Over the Counter Drugs
Over the counter drugs (OTC), also known as off the shelf medication, are drugs that do NOT require a doctor's prescription and can be bought off-the-shelf in a pharmacy, and in stores such as supermarkets or small convenience stores. In many countries, OTC drugs are selected by a regulatory agency to ensure that they are ingredients that are safe and effective when used without a physician's care. As a general rule, over-the-counter drugs have to be used primarily to treat a condition that does not require the direct supervision of a doctor and must be proven to be reasonably safe and well tolerated. In the United States some over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines are being moved behind the counter at pharmacies as part of the fight against illegal drug production.
Examples of Over the Counter Drugs:
Acetaminophen (Tylenol); Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin); Decongestants, Aspirin.
Behind the Counter Medication
What are behind the counter drugs? Doesn't that just mean prescription medication? Similar to over-the-counter status, behind the counter (BTC) allows patients to access certain medication at a pharmacy without seeing a doctor. Unlike OTC, access is not allowed without the intervention of a learned intermediary, and unlike prescription medication, behind the Counter meds allows a patient to access drugs after an assessment and decision by a pharmacist. All U.S. drug products that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine must be kept behind the pharmacy counter and only be sold in limited quantities. The behind the counter medication scheme is currently in practice in several European nations, Canada, Australia, and the United States (limited version).
Examples of Behind the Counter Medication:
Some cold and allergy medicines; Birth control pills; Migraine medications; Cough syrup with codeine; Anything containing Pseudoephedrine.
A prescription drug (prescription medication or prescription medicine) is a pharmaceutical drug that legally requires a medical prescription to be dispensed. In contrast, over-the-counter and behind-the-counter drugs can be obtained without a prescription. A prescription drug requires a medical diagnosis and decision by a licensed healthcare professional as to which medicine is used, and is only intended for use by one person. Prescription medication can only be dispensed from a pharmacy (community, online, or mail-order) by a licensed pharmacist. In North America, the term "Rx" is often used as a short form for prescription drug.
Examples of Prescription Drugs:
Antibiotics; Statins; Antidepressants; Sleeping pills.
Sometimes, the same drug may come in both OTC and prescription versions, depending on the strength.
Regulations detailing the establishments where drugs may be sold, who is authorized to dispense them, and whether a prescription is required vary considerably from country to country.
- 1: How to Save Money on Prescription Medications : Harvard Health Publications (2014/02/09)
- 2: Biosimilar Drugs May Save Health Care Billions : RAND Corporation (2014/11/03)
- 3: Antibiogram Use in Nursing Facilities May Help Improve Antibiotic Use and Effectiveness : OSU College of Pharmacy (2014/11/11)
- 4: Aspirin: General Information, Facts and Warnings : Disabled World (2010/10/04)
- 5: SMA1 Infant Life-Saving Zolgensma Therapy Unavailable in Canada : John and Amanda Hanki (2020/09/15)
- 6: Thalidomide: Information, Uses and Side Effects : Thomas C. Weiss (2015/08/18)
- 7: Antipsychotics: Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities : Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2017/08/25)
• Disabled World is strictly a news and information website provided for general informational purpose only and does not constitute medical advice. Materials presented are in no way meant to be a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Any 3rd party offering or advertising on disabled-world.com does not constitute endorsement by Disabled World. Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.