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Substance used to cure, alleviate, diagnose, or prevent disease. Before 1900 only a few drugs were used scientifically, among them alcohol, ether, Morphine, Digitalis, Quinine, Iron, Iodine, Mercury, diphtheria antitoxin, and smallpox vaccine. Since then, and particularly since World War II, many new drugs and classes of drugs have been developed, making chemotherapy an essential part of medical practice. Such drugs include antibiotics; sulfa drugs; cardiovascular drugs, including propanolol and other beta blockers; diuretics; anticoagulants; whole blood, plasma, and blood derivatives; various smooth muscle relaxants and smooth muscle stimulants; immunosuppressive drugs; hormones, such as thyroxine, insulin, and estrogen; cortisone and other corticosteroids; oral contraceptives; vitamins; analgesics; poison antidotes; and various stimulants and depressants, among them narcotics, amphetamines, and barbiturates (also anasthesia; hallucinogenic drugs). Drugs are derived from many sources, organic and inorganic. Alkaloids, hormones, vaccines, and antibiotics come from plants and animals; other drugs are synthesized in the laboratory or extracted from inorganic compounds. There are two marketing classes of drugs; ethical drugs, for which prescriptions are needed, and Patent Medicines, which are sold over the counter without prescription. The publication in the U.S. giving drug properties, actions, uses, dosages, and standards of strength and purity is the United States PharmacopoeiaŚNational Formulary. The Physician's Desk Reference compiles information supplied by drug companies about their products. The Food and Drug Administration regulates the testing and marketing of new drugs in the United States. The scientific study of drugs, their actions, and effects is Pharmacology.


The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia
by Columbia University Press

URL: http://deoxy.org/define/drug