The availability of prescription medication is restricted and controlled by the government for good reason. In most cases, prescription medications are powerful drugs that, while they do have the power to heal, also have the potential to cause serious adverse effects in some patients.
In some cases, medications are only available through a prescription because that specific medication presents an increased risk of abuse. However, some drugs pose no real potential for abuse but are controlled due to the serious effects they may have on the patient. Of course, this includes situations in which the patient is taking other prescription medication, as well as cases in which the patient is prescribed only one medication. The reality is that even with the advancement of medicine, doctors and pharmacists cannot always know how a patient’s body will react to a certain medication.
In general, doctors and pharmacists have a duty to ensure that the medication they are providing to a patient is not known to be dangerous. This means that a pharmacist should not substitute generic medication for name-brand drugs unless the physician specifically allows for such a substitution. It also means that pharmacists should be double-checking which medications a patient is taking before providing a new medication that may adversely react with an existing one.