Loosening the rules for consumer access to OTC drugs

Some naysayers from the drug industry are strenuously objecting to a Food & Drug Administration (FDA) proposal that could make more prescription-only drugs — such as those to treat asthma, migraines, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol — more accessible without having to schedule a doctors appointment. “Medicine needs to take medical care to where the patients are,” Janet Woodcock, Director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, testified at a hearing in March. See Internal Medicine News.

The hearing, however, produced mostly special-interest pleadings, e.g. doctors’ groups, pharmacists, drugstore chains, pharmaceutical companies. There was not much input from the public. Increased access to over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that currently require a costly visit to a physician office to get a prescription can provide a lot of potential cost savings and health benefits to patients. Obviously, caution must be exercised as rules are loosened, but the rules seem to be overly restrictive and weighted in favor of those currently authorized to dispense drugs. 

I know I have found it extremely irritating to make an appointment and take time off work to simply get a prescription renewed. Many drugs that require prescriptions here in the U.S. are sold over the counter in other countries. Some changes are in order.  Especially since today's consumers can freely access trusted information online about drugs they need, e.g. Medline Plus.

What do you think? I'm looking primarily for input from consumers, rather than drug companies.


Self Service Healthcare is Thriving

Take a minute to also read a related blog I previously wrote entitled "Self Service Healthcare is Thriving" at http://www.openhealthnews.com/blogs/groenpj/2011-09-26/self-service-heal...