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What are the categories of medication?

What are the categories of medication?

Generally speaking, there are only four different types of medications that you would come across. These are:

  1. General Sales List
  2. Pharmacy Medicines
  3. Prescription Only Medicines
  4. Controlled Drugs

The 4 Categories of Medication

These categories all have their own unique marks by which to identify them and there are different rules surrounding the use of them. Here they are broken down:

General Sales List (GSL)

GSLs are a type of medicine that have few legal restrictions. They can be bought almost anywhere.

Although these medicines are typically deemed “not dangerous”, it doesn’t mean that they come with no risk - so you should still be careful when administering them to a person.

GSLs include paracetamol, some cold and flu remedies, and vitamin supplements.

Pharmacy Medicines

Pharmacy Medicines are only available to purchase behind the counter at a pharmacy. This way the pharmacist is able to refuse the sale if they believe it’s not the right medicine for you.

You can identify these medicines by the “P” printed on the packaging.

Pharmacy Medicines include mild sleeping tablets, stronger antihistamines, and Viagra.

Prescription Only Medicines

Prescription Only Medicines can have rather harmful effects and can cause serious addiction if misused.

Therefore, Prescription Only Medicines must be prescribed by the person's doctor or dentist.

The packaging of these medicines will be marked as “POM”. You’ll find this mark on the likes of anti-depressants, insulin, and stronger sleeping medication.

Controlled Drugs

Controlled Drugs are the most serious category of drugs. Whilst having effects similar to Prescription Only Medicines, these drugs have been specifically listed as Controlled Drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

These medicines also require a prescription from a medical professional such as a doctor or dentist. They have certain restrictions as to how they’re dispensed, stored, and administered.

Controlled Drugs are all marked with “POM” and “CD” on the packaging.

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