Medications are drugs taken to reduce or cure medical conditions and illnesses. Medications are commonly divided into over-the-counter (OTC) medication and prescription-only medication (POM). OTC medication is generally deemed to be safe. In other words, a person consuming OTC medication has little chance of doing himself harm if he follows the instructions written in the label.

In several countries, like the UK for example, a third category of medications is in place. Those are called Pharmacy Medications and they can be sold only in registered pharmacies, under directions from the pharmacist. The precise distinction between POM and OTC medication depends on the law. Medications are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies and generally come with a copyright. Those drugs without a patent are known as generic drugs.

POM necessitates a prescription or a written order from a doctor, dentist, or a nurse practitioner. This prescription gives a pharmacist the approval to hand out a specific medication. POM is given for treatment of a particular illness or a medical problem. It is usually more powerful than OTC medications and has more side effects.

OTC medications, on the other hand, can be purchased without a written approval from a doctor. Normally, they are given for relief of common and minor ailments. OTC medications are relatively safer than POMs if consumed under proper instructions.

OTC and POM medications differ in their respective compositions. A specific ingredient or a combination of ingredients of an OTC drug, along with the recommended doses, is deemed relatively harmless. Still, it is important to know that several OTC medications do contain powerful agents. If its consumption exceeds more than what the instructions demand, OTC medications can be equally strong as POMs and more liable to do harm.