Prescription Drug Descriptions

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Formularies are the foundation of an organized drug management system that allows healthcare workers to prescribe medication with confidence. Although these formularies vary from health plan to health plan and from hospital to hospital, their purpose is to describe and categorize drugs that are used by the particular institution. This enables each physician, for instance, to consult a standardized listing of drugs that are acceptable and commonly used within the institution.

Special precautions are taken with controlled drugs, for these fall into a restricted group of drugs that are regulated by the federal government. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 not only lists these drugs, but categorizes them and promulgates rules about their prescription to patients. Generally, they are either proscribed or they are seriously regulated down to the number of copies of a prescription.

Controlled Substances in Prescriptions

These drugs are divided into five schedules; these are not inflexible, as any drug can be moved from one schedule to another. Schedule I drugs would include heroin, marijuana, LSD, and peyote. These have a high potential for severe abuse; they are proscribed in the United States. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse along with severe psychic or physical dependence. The long list of Schedule II drugs includes opium, morphine, oxycodone, codeine, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.

Schedule III drugs have less severe abuse potential; they include certain narcotic analgesic drugs, and other drugs such as barbiturates. Schedule IV drugs are considered to have less abuse potential, and include phenobarbital and chloral hydrate. Schedule V drugs have even less abuse potential and consist mostly of preparations containing small quantities of narcotic analgesic drugs used for antitussive and antidiarrheal purposes. All these drugs require that meticulous records be kept by healthcare workers.

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