Medication is defined as a substance or drug used to treat and cure diseases. They are also used to help patients reach optimal health.
According to reports, about 70 percent of Americans are on at least one medication today. Many of these are on two or more medications. Some people are taking six, seven and even more medicines to treat a myriad of health disorders.
If you think back a few decades, medication was not as prevalent in treatment patients. This may be because there were many fewer pharmaceutical companies, fewer research scientists creating medicine to ease symptoms.
It may also be because physicians focused more on helping the patients make lifestyle changes than prescribing them a medicine. Whatever the reason, there is no mistaking that the growth of medication over the years has resulted in revolutionary changes in how healthcare is provided.
To understand the growth of medication, it is important to also understand how we have defined medication both in the past and now.
Original Creators of Medication
Hippocrates is often considered to have discovered medicine around 460 B.C. Some debate this theory. What they do mostly agree on is the fact that natural resources could be used to heal. For instance, clay was used to cover broken bones, animal fats were used to cover cuts and burns, and inhaling steam was used to help chest congestion.
The ancient Egyptians were known to use honey as an antiseptic and they were the first in embalming bodies before burial.
Ancient Greeksand Romans believed in herbal remedies. Some used hot peppers to treat a cold, and clean hygiene was important in staying well. Salves and ointments were created using the best parts of plants and other parts of nature.
Many medicinal properties had both spiritual and religious meanings attached to them in ancient times.
Someone needed medicine did not have a pharmacy to visit. They didn’t need to get a prescription from the local doctor. Instead, they made the medicine themselves, by their own hands, using elements of their environment.
In the 1800s, scientists began chemically altering the substances found in nature, to enhance their medicinal effects. For instance, the active ingredient in white willow was chemically altered to have a better taste. The product became Aspirin, the first well known drug of our time.
It seems much of the original pharmaceutical medications were the controlled substances of today.
Heroin, cocaine, morphine and other narcotics were used during this time to treat many ailments. They did not know at the time just how addictive they could be.
Many of these medicines came in the form of tinctures using the extracts of plants and many use alcohols to enhance the product. Tinctures were given in bottles, jars or anything that can hold the liquid medication.
Prescription medication bottles were widely used throughout the 19th and 20th century and still today.
Introduction of Pill Form Medications
Many reports show pills date back as early as 1500 B.C., but they were mostly just formed balls of the plant extract. This form was often hard to swallow, making it difficult to get the full benefits of the medicine. Also, some forms were not dissolvable in the stomach.
As the need for medication increased, scientists began researching ways to provide medication to patients that can be easily created on a large scale.
By the mid-1800s, when liquid tinctures were prevalent, scientists had also invented pill versions of medicine using sugar and gelatin coatings.
Also, during this time, a machine was created that could turn medicine into a capsule by compressing powder and then coating it with sugar or gelatin, making it easier to consume.
A friable pill was developed during this time with this machine, meaning it was easier to digest in the stomach and move into the bloodstream. This meant patients were able to feel the effects of the medicines. This also meant a massive growth in prescription medication use.
Glass bottles came in a variety of shapes, including square, rectangular, oval and cylindrical.
These types of medication bottles were used until plastic bottles became more popular.
Modern Prescription Medication
Plastic has taken the place of glass or ceramic used in prescribing medicines. Plastic is even used with liquid medicines today. Plastic bottles are colored, often red or orange. This is to prevent sunlight from entering the bottle and degrading the medication.
Today, there are over 7,000 medications available for various therapeutic needs. And hundreds more are being analyzed and approved by the government. Many claim this growth is due to biotechnology that can take biological sources and modify their molecules to create treatments.
Synthetic biology methods may cause another surge in medication growth around the world.
With an increase in types of medications, there will also be advancements in the packaging of medication.
Today, medicines are prescribed in groups, put in one single package and labeled with instructions. Better ways are already starting to emerge and show promising advantages. This new form is called repackaged medication.
The Future of Medication: Repackaging
Medication you prescribe is created by a manufacturer. This manufacturer places the newly created medicine in an original package. This packaging will not be the final packaging. Instead, the medicines are shipped to a repackaging company.
The repackaging company removes the medicine from its original packaging and puts into a safer, more convenient form of storage. For instance, if your medicine may arrive at the repackaging company in a single container. They may be removed from the single container and placed in individual blister packs, separating them into single doses. This is considered repackaging.
The Federal Drug Administration enforces strict rules when it comes to repackaging any product. Furthermore, the facility must be licensed and certified as an approved site for repackaging. The FDA sets forth such strict guidelines to maintain safety for consumers and to protect you from any malpractice.
Repackaging has shown to have benefits such as patient compliance and improved health outcomes. Therefore, it is a viable area of growth in the prescription medication industry.