Open Class

A drug class that contains numerous drug products, all of which are covered.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs

Drugs that are available from retail stores without a prescription.

Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics (P&T) Committee—

An advisory committee of the medical staff that represents the official, organizational line of communication and liaison between the medical staff and the pharmacy department; its recommendations are subject to medical staff approval.


A compendium of drug standards for purity and strength.

Preferred Class

A drug class listed in a formulary in which specific drugs are named as the “preferred agent” for use.

Prescription Drugs

Any drugs or biologics that by federal or state law, rule, or regulation require a written prescription to dispense and that are listed as Federal Legend Drugs, State Restricted Drugs, or compendial medications.

Prior Approval or Authorization—

A cost-containment procedure that requires a prescriber to obtain permission to use medications prior to prescribing.

Step Protocol—

A treatment protocol that recommends beginning a trial of drug therapy for a medical condition with one drug or class of drugs (often of lower cost or risk) before proceeding to other drugs or drug classes.

Therapeutic Alternates—

Drug products differing in composition or in their basic drug entity, but of the same pharmacological and/or therapeutic class, that are considered to have very similar pharmacological and therapeutic activities and adverse reaction profiles when administered to patients in therapeutically equivalent doses.

Therapeutic Equivalence

Similar pharmacological and therapeutic activity of drugs.

Therapeutic Interchange

Authorized exchange of various therapeutic alternates by pharmacists under arrangement between pharmacists and authorized prescribers who have previously established written guidelines or protocols within a formulary system and jointly agreed on conditions for interchange or who give permission individually at the time of exchange.

Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN)

One of 22 regional health systems created under the VA reorganization of 1994–1995. This reflected a shift of funding from facilities to population and a shift of emphasis from hospital to ambulatory and community-based settings. Over time, these VISNs have evolved to become analogous to a managed care organization.

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