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Prescription Drug Abuse

  • By: Michael Montagne
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

In the United States, medical drugs are developed and produced by pharmaceutical companies and legally classified in two categories: prescription and nonprescription (also called over-the-counter). The Durham-Humphrey Act of 1951, an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to limit certain drugs to prescription-only status if they cannot be used safely without medical supervision. The abuse of prescription drugs refers to a range of inappropriate drug-taking behaviors, from patient nonadherence with medication regimens to compulsive drug use due to dependency. Whether a specific pattern of use is called misuse, abuse, or addiction, the nonmedical use of prescription drugs has become the fastest growing drug problem over the past two decades. Attendant to ...

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