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A medication is a drug or substance taken to reduce symptoms or cure an
illness or medical condition. Medications are generally divided into two
groups - 'over the counter' medications, which are available in pharmacies
and supermarkets without a prescription, and 'prescription-only', which must
be prescribed by a doctor. Most over-the-counter medication is generally
considered to be safe enough that the average person will not kill
themselves accidentally by taking it as instructed.
Medications are typically produced by pharmaceutical companies. Such drugs
may be patented, whereby the company demonstrates it has created a novel
compound and holds the sole rights to production or licensing of that
compound for a limited period of time (usually 20 years). Medications that
are not patented are called generic drugs.