A medication is a drug or substance taken to reduce symptoms or cure an illness or medical condition. Medications are generally divided into two groups - 'over the counter' medications, which are available in pharmacies and supermarkets without a prescription, and 'prescription-only', which must be prescribed by a doctor. Most over-the-counter medication is generally considered to be safe enough that the average person will not kill themselves accidentally by taking it as instructed.
Medications are typically produced by pharmaceutical companies. Such drugs may be patented, whereby the company demonstrates it has created a novel compound and holds the sole rights to production or licensing of that compound for a limited period of time (usually 20 years). Medications that are not patented are called generic drugs.