How many pharmaceuticals available for Rx or OTC in the US?
May 13, 2014 12:17 PM   Subscribe

This study and this article mention that there are more than 3,000 pharmaceuticals currently approved for prescription in the U.S and many compounds approved for OTC use. Where did they come up with that number or how might one come up that type of estimate?

I've done some digging in the orange book data from the FDA, but that leads me to think the number is in fact much higher. I imagine my lack of understanding the subtlety of difference between "compounds," "pharmaceuticals," and "ingredients" is hampering me a bit. Too, I might not be counting entries effectively.

I did some searching on google scholar and pubmed, but encountered a lot of noise from very detailed studies on specific drugs. I'd really be most interested in an academic article that makes this claim (x number of pharmaceuticals approved for prescription or OTC, or in use, or the like) and cites it's source or explains its method.

Thanks in advance!
posted by GPF to Health & Fitness (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, a compound in a drug is what has the chemical activity that makes it therapeutically useful. The ingredients can include excipients (non-active ingredients like, oh, the coating of a tablet, etc).

And obviously the FDA has data on how many compounds and drugs are approved for marketing.

You can pretty much just look up the definitions you don't understand in any medicinal or pharmaceutical chemistry textbook.
posted by discopolo at 2:28 PM on May 13, 2014

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