Bill to Ease Access to Over-the-Counter Drugs Gains Support

Currently consumers must get a doctor’s approval before buying OTCs with pretax spending accounts.

Little Colds cold and cough medicine is seen at a Rite Aid store in San Francisco, California.
National Journal
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Clara Ritger
Nov. 7, 2013, 11:59 a.m.

Two phar­ma­ceut­ic­al as­so­ci­ations have ad­ded their names to the grow­ing list of sup­port­ers for a bi­par­tis­an Sen­ate bill that would al­low con­sumers to use pretax dol­lars to pur­chase over-the-counter medi­cine without a doc­tor’s ap­prov­al.

The Na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Chain Drug Stores and the Na­tion­al Com­munity Phar­macists As­so­ci­ation are back­ing the Restor­ing Ac­cess to Med­ic­a­tion Act, sponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan. The NACDS and NCPA are mem­bers of the Health Choices Co­ali­tion — which sent a let­ter of sup­port to the sen­at­ors — and rep­res­ent con­sumers, phys­i­cians, in­surers, and em­ploy­ers.

The Af­ford­able Care Act re­quires pa­tients with flex­ible spend­ing ac­counts and health sav­ings ac­counts to see a phys­i­cian and ob­tain a pre­scrip­tion for OTCs. The Restor­ing Ac­cess to Med­ic­a­tion Act would re­peal that pro­vi­sion.

“These medi­cines save con­sumers bil­lions of dol­lars an­nu­ally through re­du­cing un­ne­ces­sary doc­tors’ vis­its, less time lost from work, and the cost ad­vant­age of OTC medi­cines,” the co­ali­tion wrote in its let­ter to the sen­at­ors.

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