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What RX Is

What Is Rx?

For a pharmacist the term "Rx" symbolizes important medical information. The pharmacist usually identifies the term "Rx" with a prescription, one written by a physician. In most cases, that prescription specifies the quantity of a prescription medicine that should be given to the patient in possession of the prescription.

Still, the term "Rx" does not always signify information related to a particular medicine. A doctor's prescription can also offer details about a needed medical appliance. A patient can, for example, get a prescription for a pair of glasses. That prescription contains details about the glass lenses.

Use of the term "Rx" grew out of medical tradition. That tradition relied on Latin for the naming of parts of the anatomy. Latin of course had verbs as well as nouns. One Latin verb, radix, meant "take this." When abbreviated, that verb became Rx.

Present-day health professionals have added to the number of medically-related items that might be associated with the term "Rx." Those two letters can, for example, represent a remedy, a cure or a solution. The ventricular-peritoneal shunt has become the generally-accepted Rx for hydrocephalus. In the recent past, patients with heart problems often heard that an arterial stent offered them an effective cure. That procedure was once seen as the Rx for almost all heart problems.

Sometimes a health professional might use the term Rx when speaking about a reaction. This is not some sort of chemical reaction. It is a natural, physiological reaction. Such a reaction takes place automatically. A seizure represents the sort of reaction that health professionals can associate with the term Rx.

At one time the term "Rx" provided one American business man with a ready business name. In 1902, Louis Ligget called together 40 drug store owners. He encouraged them to put money into the formation of a retailer's cooperative.

Ligget managed to raise a total of $4,000. He and his partners formed a cooperative called the United Drug Stores. All of the products on the shelves of those stores carried the Rexall name. After World War I, Rexall Drugstores became a national franchise.

Americans not only saw many signs with the word "Rexall," they also heard that word mentioned often on the radio. In the 1940's, Rexall sponsored two different radio shows. Radio listeners heard Rexall ads during both "Amos and Andy" and "The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show."

Eventually business decisions led to a steady decline in the number of Rexall signs within the borders of the U.S. The U.S. chain was sold to private investors in 1977. Today the sons and daughters of the baby boomers do not recall seeing the frequently-displayed Rexall name, as their parents did, some thirty or more years ago.

The youth of Canada, unlilke the youth to the south, can still find a number of signs that bear the Rexall name. That's because the Rexall name is still used in Canada. In fact, the Rexall name sometimes appears on Canadian TV. Rexall Place is the home of a popular ice hockey team, the Edmonton Oilers.


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