This article is devoted to the pharmaceutical branch of the USA. We have tried to collect of the necessary information that will help you understand the rules of drug regulation and pharmaceutical branch organization.
US pharmaceutical branch is organized quite differently comparing to those of the other countries. firstly, most regular stores are considered to be places where one can buy things needed every day, for example personal hygiene products, household chemicals, make-up products, dry packed food, drinks, and medical drugs, of course.
In the given store there is always a department where people can buy prescription medicines only.
In the USA drug stores may be a part of large pharmacy chains like Walgreens, BC Health (Battle Creek Canadian Pharmacy), Rite Aid, Duane Reade, CVS, Costco or may conduct their business independently. Sometimes big chains even provide their shopping space for small pharmaceutical shops inside.
Types of medications in the US drug stores
One should remember that medications in the USA are divided into two big groups: prescription and non-prescription drugs. The group of non-prescription drugs includes:
- Pimple care (facial crèmes, gels, scrubs, masks etc.);
- Cough / cold remedy (pills, sprays for throat, nasal sprays, cough syrups, cough drops and so on);
- Remedies for allergic disease (Claritin, Zyrtec, Allergra, Benadryl);
- Pain relievers (fever or pain relievers in the form of pills, crèmes, gels sprays etc. everything depends upon the type of pain);
- Antiacids to treat epigastric burning, stomach ache cause by the superacidity;
- Remedies for flatus, diarrhea, constipation;
You can buy all the above-mentioned drugs without prescription. While choosing the medication you can always ask pharmacist for assistance as even non-prescription medications have their contraindications. So, the pharmacist will help you find the drug that will improve your health condition most effectively.
Another type of medications refers to the prescription drugs. As a rule, they are prescribed to treat chronic or complex disease and infections. You will need a doctor’s prescription when you decide to buy these medicines.
The given group includes remedies for:
- Heart diseases (any heart problems except high blood pressure)
- High blood pressure
- Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol level)
- Infections (including bacterial infections to be treated with antibiotics and mycotic infections to be treated with anti-fungal drugs)
This list does not include all the prescribed medications, so you need to contanc your doctor or ask a pharmacist in the drug store.
What do you need to fill in the prescription?
Of course, you don’t fill in the prescription document. However, you should know which information is needed.
First of all you should visit your doctor. In the USA it is called PCP – primary care physician. Sometimes you need another medical specialist. It depends upon the disorder you have.
As a rule, the doctor can give a paper copy of the prescription (you need to show it in the drug store) or send the electronic one to the drug store you choose. In this case your order will be ready as soon as you enter the drug store.
The doctor can also call to the drug store and provide complete information regarding your prescription. Be ready that you will not wait for a long period of time when you come to the drug store for your medications.
How to pay for the prescription?
Usually patients have medical insurance that covers the price of medication. It is very important that you provide correct insurance card in the drug store with “RX” letters on it.
Most insurance types provide only partial cost coverage. It means that insurance will cover major part of expenses and you will need to pay small share of the total price. For example, if you have private insurance (Aetna, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Oxford, Medco, Innoviant etc.) you partial payment will make up 5 to 100 US dollars depending upon the total price of the medications.
If you have state insurance (Medicaid, Health First, Health Plus, Metro-Plus, Fidelis,) your payments will not exceed several dollars.
However, if you do not have any insurance the medications will cost you much. In this case you can ask pharmacist for a “discount”. As a rule drug stores can provide discount cards for patients to reduce the cost of medications. For example, Bchealth.com online pharmacy sells discount cards for 20 USD per year and this card will cover the cost of most medicines.
Some pieces of advice
When you are going to buy non-prescription drugs you will see the branded products like Advil, Viagra or Cialis for example which are expensive. At the same time there will be another medication lying on the shelf nearby and its price will be several time less. These drugs are called non-branded or generic as they are produced by independent pharmaceutical company, not by the branded company.
As a rule, generic drugs has the same pharmaceutical content and active substance and, as a result, the same pharmaceutical action. The pharmacist will help you find all the necessary information about these medications and reduce your expenses for medications.
What is FDA?
All the drugs and food produced and sold in the USA must have an FDA approval.
FDA is a Food and Drug Administration that controls pharmaceutical branch, issues laws and regulations referring the medications. The FDA’s mission is to improve quality and safety of food products, food supplements, beauty products and medical drugs, vaccines, veterinary drugs. According to the rules the above-mentioned products can be sold only after it is approved by FDA. DFA does not only provide certificates. It constantly conducts tests and controls quality of products and is authorized to terminate the certificate or license if the product does not meet high requirements of FDA.
FDA was created in 1906 and since then is responsible for the following activities:
- Evaluation of food product quality and safety;
- Pharmaceutical product effectiveness control;
- Animal feed quality control;
- Medical equipment quality control.
FDA approval has positive effect on the pharmaceutical company image and sales volumes of the medical drugs (as patients trust the medication and are ready to buy it). Find drugs with FDA sign on them and be sure you buy safe and effective medications.
However, don’t forget about restrictions and contraindications every drug has that is why consult your doctor before taking any medicine. Moreover, you should also remember that generic drugs (as we told here before) that does not have FDA approval may also be safe and of high quality. So you can check all the available information and then buy the required medication.