BHealthy Blog

Prescription vs. Over-the-Counter Medication

Medication can be used to address a variety of issues. From disease management to pain relief to illness prevention, modern-day medicines provide solutions through two types of drugs, prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) – and it’s important to know the difference.

Prescription Drugs

Rx drugs can only be obtained through a prescription from a physician or other licensed medical professional, such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. These medications are typically stronger than OTC drugs, and can only be used by the intended person to treat a specific medical diagnosis. Prescription drugs are only distributed at licensed pharmacies.

Over-the-Counter Drugs

While certain OTC medications may be recommended by your doctor, they don’t require a prescription to purchase. OTC drugs typically treat conditions that are easy to self-diagnose, such as headaches, colds and allergies, and can be purchased at grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores and supermarkets. These drugs are not as potent as Rx drugs, and it is less likely that they can be misused or abused – but it can happen. Make sure to always follow the guidelines listed on the box or bottle, and call your physician if you have any questions.

How to Dispose of Medications

Some medicines can be harmful if taken by the wrong person, either accidentally or intentionally. Keep your family safe by regularly cleaning out your medicine cabinet of all medications that are out of date or no longer needed. Rx drugs should be disposed of as soon as you are done with the medication, while an OTC drug should be disposed of once it reaches its expiration date. We recommend dropping off your old and unneeded medication at an Arkansas Takeback secure collection box, where they will be collected and properly disposed of. 

Knowing the difference between Rx and OTC drugs and how to properly dispose of your medication is an important part of keeping yourself happy, healthy and amazing.