In English, the noun "drug" is thought to originate from Old French "drogue", possibly deriving later into "droge-vate" from Middle Dutch meaning "dry barrels", referring to medicinal plants preserved in them.
The transitive verb "to drug" (meaning intentionally administer a substance to someone, often without their knowledge) arose later and invokes the psychoactive rather than medicinal properties of a substance.
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Uncoated aspirin tablets, consisting of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along with a minor amount of inert fillers and binders.
Aspirin is a pharmaceutical drug often used to treat pain, fever, and inflammation.
Pharmaceutical drugs are often classified into drug classes—groups of related drugs that have similar chemical structures, the same mechanism of action (binding to the same biological target), a related mode of action, and that are used to treat the same disease.
The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System (ATC), the most widely used drug classification system, assigns drugs a unique ATC code, which is an alphanumeric code that assigns it to specific drug classes within the ATC system.
Dispensing of medication is often regulated by governments into three categories—over-the-counter medications, which are available in pharmacies and supermarkets without special restrictions; behind-the-counter medicines, which are dispensed by a pharmacist without needing a doctor's prescription, and prescription only medicines, which must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional, usually a physician.
In the United Kingdom, behind-the-counter medicines are called pharmacy medicines which can only be sold in registered pharmacies, by or under the supervision of a pharmacist.
These medications are designated by the letter P on the label.
Another major classification system is the Biopharmaceutics Classification System.
This classifies drugs according to their solubility and permeability or absorption properties.
Excessive use of stimulants can promote stimulant psychosis.
Many recreational drugs are illicit and international treaties such as the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs exist for the purpose of their prohibition.