A pharmacist is a person who studies and knows about different kinds of medicine. Pharmacists study in college and then take a state test to get a license. A pharmacy is a store that sells medicine. In the United States, we often call those stores drugstores. Drugstores also sell a lot of other things, like shampoo, crackers, combs, magazines, candy, etc. The part of the drugstore that sells medicine is usually under a sign that says Pharmacy.
There are two kinds of medications in the United States. One kind of medicine is over the counter or OTC. You can just go into a drugstore and buy it. However, you have to read the label carefully. The label is in small print and uses a lot of vocabulary, but it has important information. Most OTC medicine labels include information like indications, directions, warnings and drug interaction precautions
The other kind of medication is prescription medication. If you want to buy this medicine, you need a doctor's prescription. You take the prescription to the pharmacy. The pharmacist fills the prescription.
When a company makes a new kind of medicine, they give it a brand name. This name is different from its scientific name. The company takes out a patent. When the patent ends, other companies can make the same drug. However, they don't give it a brand name. Instead, they use the scientific name, and the drug is called a generic drug. The company has to make it safe and follow all the rules of the Food and Drug Administration. Some prescription plans tell you to buy generic drugs instead of brand name drugs because generic drugs are cheaper.
You can find information about various medications on the Internet. There are many websites you can visit to get some information about a particular medicine. On all of these sites, to look for drug information you can put the name of the drug in the box and click Search or you can click on the first letter of the drug at the top of the page to find it alphabetically. Links to some of these sites are here: (They will come up in a new browser window. Close the window to come back to this page.)
Click on the link to Medicine Activities to go to the next part of this reading. It has a vocabulary list, a matching exercise, and a true/false test with four parts. When you click on the link, the next page will open in a new browser window.