A pharmaceutical drug, also referred to as medicine or medicament, can be loosely defined as any substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. Other synonyms include pharmacotherapy, pharmacotherapeutics, and drug treatment.
Medications may be divided into over-the-counter drugs which may be available without special restrictions, and prescription only medicine , which must be prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner. The precise distinction between OTC and prescription depends on the legal jurisdiction.
For patented medications, countries may have certain mandatory licensing programs which compel, in certain situations, a medication's owner to contract with other agents to manufacture the drug. New advances in genomics, and the promise of personalized medicine, are likely to fragment the pharmaceutical market.
Such programs may deal with the contingency of a lack of medication in the event of a serious epidemic of disease, or may be part of efforts to ensure that disease treating drugs, such as AIDS drugs, are available to countries which cannot afford the drug owner's price. A blockbuster drug is a drug generating for its owner each year.