Should some prescriptions be sold over the counter? The U.S Food and Drug Administration has called a meeting to solicit feedback on whether making some medicines more easily available will get more people to use them.
Study after study has shown that Americans fail to take their drugs as prescribed, often not even filling the first prescription and often not bothering to refill scripts. Studies also show that many drugs are safe when take properly, from allergy medicines to high-cholesterol medication.
So, FDA wants to know, what if people could get these drugs after a consultation with a pharmacist, and perhaps after an on-the-spot test for cholesterol or high blood pressure? The agency calls the idea "a new paradigm."
"Under this paradigm, the agency would approve certain drugs that would otherwise require a prescription for nonprescription use (also known as over-the-counter or OTC) under conditions of safe use. These conditions of safe use would be specific to the drug product and might require sale in certain pre-defined health care settings, such as a pharmacy," FDA said in a notice.
The meeting will be held March 22 and 23. FDA officials will ask what kinds of drugs might be safely available over the counter. Suggestions include drugs to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, migraines, and allergies.
The agency will also ask for input on potential screening technologies -- not just the blood-pressure cuffs found in many retail pharmacies, but perhaps on-screen questionnaires to help patient determine their needs.