LAST UPDATED: March 26, 2021 by Ryan McCain
The most widely accepted explanation for why prescription drugs are also referred to as Rx drugs is because the term Rx was derived from the Latin word, “recipe,” which essentially meant “to take.” It’s not uncommon for legal, medical, etc. words to be of Latin of Greek origin.
There are few other theories for why prescription drugs are referred to as Rx drugs, however, they all seem far fetched to me but no one really knows for sure. Another theory is that the Rx symbol evolved from the Eye of Horus, which was an Ancient Egyptian symbol for protection, good health, and royal power.
The first record of prescription drugs being used goes back to about 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia. These early prescriptions were etched into clay tablets. In the 16th century, the word “recipe” had been slightly modified in French to “récipé” and had come to mean “medical prescription.” In America, the earliest drugstores date back to the 17th century in some of the large cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and New York.
Prior to the 1950s, most prescription drugs were manufactured by the pharmacist, often using a mortar and pestle to combine the ingredients. It was at this time that prescription drugs began being mass-produced by pharmaceutical companies.
- In the U.S., 88% of older adults (62–85 years) use at least 1 prescription drug.
- 36% take at least 5 prescription medicines concurrently.
- Brand name drugs are expensive due to the time, money, and resources pharmaceutical companies invest in the research and creation of the drugs.