patent medicine

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patent medicine,

packaged drugsdrugs,
substances used in medicine either externally or internally for curing, alleviating, or preventing a disease or deficiency. At the turn of the century only a few medically effective substances were widely used scientifically, among them ether, morphine, digitalis,
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 that can be obtained without prescription; the term was formerly used to describe quack remedies sold by peddlers. Patent, or proprietary, medicines are advertised to the public by trade name, purport to be effective against minor disorders and symptoms, and are packaged with directions for use. Antisepticsantiseptic,
agent that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms on the external surfaces of the body. Antiseptics should generally be distinguished from drugs such as antibiotics that destroy microorganisms internally, and from disinfectants, which destroy microorganisms
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, analgesicsanalgesic
, any of a diverse group of drugs used to relieve pain. Analgesic drugs include the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as the salicylates, acetaminophen, narcotic drugs such as morphine, and synthetic drugs with morphinelike action such as meperidine
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, some sedativessedative,
any of a variety of drugs that relieve anxiety. Most sedatives act as mild depressants of the nervous system, lessening general nervous activity or reducing the irritability or activity of a specific organ.
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, laxativeslaxative,
drug or other substance used to stimulate the action of the intestines in eliminating waste from the body. The term laxative usually refers to a mild-acting substance; substances of increasingly drastic action are known as cathartics, purgatives, hydrogogues,
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, and antacidsantacid,
any one of several basic substances that counteract stomach acidity (see stomach). Antacids are used by physicians to treat hyperchlorhydria, i.e., the excessive production of hydrochloric acid by the parietal cells lining the stomach.
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, cold and cough medicines, and various skin preparations are included in the group. Sale of proprietary medicines is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which evaluates preparations as to their safety and effectiveness.

patent medicine

[′pat·ənt ′med·ə·sən]
(pharmacology)
A medicine, generally trademarked, whose composition is incompletely disclosed.

patent medicine

a medicine protected by a patent and available without a doctor's prescription