Making Chronic Condition Drugs Available Without a Prescription
The FDA set stricter rules for the sale of over-the-counter drugs in 1972. Is it time to revisit those rules and perhaps help to bring down the cost of some chronic condition drugs?
Heart burn and cold symptoms are two examples of acute conditions that are treatable by over-the-counter drugs. The FDA held a two-day public hearing at the end of June 2000 to determine if certain medications for long-term use may be safe to use without a doctor's prescription.
The medications under consideration include those drugs to treat asthma, diuretics, anti-hypertensive agents, and birth-control pills. The hearings would be just the beginning of a long regulatory procedure to change the rules. Among the drugs being considered for over-the-counter status are Claritin, the allergy drug made by Schering-Plough, and Mevacor, the cholesterol-lowering drug from Merck. Schering has sought to have Claritin changed from a prescription drug to an over-the-counter-medication since its patent has expired for the drug. By voluntarily switching to the OTC status it hopes to gain a 2-year exclusivity to sell the generic version of the drug.
The main requirement for a drug to be approved for over-the-counter status is that the consumer can realistically self-diagnose the ailment. This of course can be a very difficult area to assess. Is the benefit of cost reduction for the drug outweighed by the lack of ability for self-diagnoses by the consumer? If you have an opinion on this topic e-mail it to us, and we will give you the opportunity to express your viewpoint on our site.
FOR AN INFORMATIVE AND PERSONAL ARTICLE ON PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS WHEN SELECTING A NURSING HOME SEE OUR ARTICLE "How to Select a Nursing Home"
By Allan Rubin
May 12, 2000
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