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Medicine Science

FDA May Let Patients Buy More Drugs Without Prescriptions 392

Posted by timothy
from the but-prescriptions-are-sacred-and-perfect dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Times reports that the Food and Drug Administration may soon permit Americans to obtain some drugs used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes without obtaining a prescription. They may allow patients to diagnose their ailments by answering questions online or at a pharmacy kiosk in order to buy current prescription-only drugs for conditions such as high cholesterol, certain infections, migraine headaches, asthma or allergies. Some pharmacists embrace the notion that they should be able to dole out medication for patients' chronic conditions without making them go through a doctor. 'This could eliminate the need for a physician visit for certain meds that may have been prescription prior to this change,' said Ronna Hauser, vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association. 'However, there may be circumstances when a patient might need a physician visit and diagnosis and original prescription to start therapy but could continue on that therapy with pharmacist refill authorization capabilities.'" (Read more, below.)
Hugh Pickens continues: "Medical providers at public hearings to obtain input on a new paradigm urge caution, saying the government should not try to cut health care costs by cutting out doctors. 'Patients rely on physicians to provide sound diagnosis and treatment information and to help them meet their unique health needs,' says Peter W. Carmel, President of the American Medical Association. 'Expanding many prescription medications to OTC interferes with that important relationship without offering any real benefits to improve patients' health or reduce their costs.'" Other countries seem to do fine with pharmacists being closer to the front line of medicine recommendations; why couldn't the U.S.?"
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FDA May Let Patients Buy More Drugs Without Prescriptions

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:33AM (#39929459)

    I'm pretty sure the American Medical Association (made up of doctors) is going to go apeshit over even the suggestion of this.

    • by DRMShill (1157993)

      Possibly, but judging by what I've seen at waiting rooms doctors have no shortage of work load. I think they may be inclined to let this one slide.

      • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:43AM (#39929607)

        dging by what I've seen at waiting rooms doctors have no shortage of work load

        Yeah, and you can bet they want to KEEP it that way.

      • by curunir (98273) * on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:51PM (#39930681) Homepage Journal

        And it's precisely because doctors are too busy that something like this makes sense. It's been the case for a number of years that doctors have been less able to keep up-to-date with the latest information on prescription drugs. Between the rate of release, marketing from the pharmaceutical companies and the various medical studies, it's ton of information to process. Doctors either choose to concentrate on a very limited subset of available drugs or they fall woefully behind. Pharmacists are, in my experience, much more able to keep up, since they only have to care about the medication side of the equation.

        For what it's worth, I'm not talking about experience as a patient. In a previous job, I worked for a PBM (prescription benefits management) company and was in charge of integrating a third-part drug database into one of their web products. I attended conferences with doctors and pharmacists and both seemed to echo the sentiment that keeping abreast of both medical developments and new drug therapies was almost impossible. The conclusion that I reached was that it makes sense to decouple the diagnosis from the prescription process. Doctors should be free to recommend or prescribe specific medications, but they should prefer to simply supply a diagnosis and allow the pharmacist to prescribe the proper medication given a patients allergies, other medications and insurance.

        This seems like a sensible step towards that.

    • by blahbooboo (839709) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:39AM (#39929535)

      Doctors are busy enough they don't need to do things just "to make more money." We have a shortage of doctors in the USA, ever try to get an appointment with a specialist who doesn't have a several week wait?

      Fact is these are serious chronic conditions that need some monitoring by doctors. This is backed up by the evidence. So please stop with the "docs are greedy" bull shit.

      • by swb (14022) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:07PM (#39929967)

        As someone who had high blood pressure and triglycerides and was put on medications for both, I will tell you that the kind of monitoring the doctor did was minimal and could easily be replaced.

        My "monitoring" was a couple of lipid panels run by the lab in his office, which could easily be outsourced to any place with lab techs who can draw blood. The rest of the monitoring was me taking my own damn blood pressure and charting the results in Excel.

        The doctor's value was near zero as far as I can tell, and less than zero if you add in the work I did changing my diet and losing a bunch of weight (all of which I did in spite of his advice), which lowered my blood pressure and totally altered my lipid profile.

        IMHO, what's needed is a new, "basic doctor" type degree that has the power to prescribe most meds and monitor most medical conditions but doesn't 8-10 years of education and training costing the GDP of a small country.

        We have a doctor "shortage" because it costs $250k to become a doctor, the people who actually get the degree specialize where the easy money is (high level of non-insurance reimbursed business which is paid in cash, up front, no on call hours, etc, like dermatology) and nobody wants to practice in high-voume, low-margin areas like being a GP.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          what's needed is a new, "basic doctor" type degree that has the power to prescribe most meds and monitor most medical conditions but doesn't 8-10 years of education and training costing the GDP of a small country.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurse_practitioner

          • Parent may be AC, but he's 100% right. I've heard of nurse practitioners who are better than the doctors they work with. This isn't to say that they're qualified to do everything that a doctor can, but they are qualified to take most of the workload that we give doctors. And yes, they can frequently diagnose on their own and write prescriptions (or ask for consultation when they can't).
        • by scamper_22 (1073470) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:39PM (#39930489)

          Exactly.

          Sure, it is *theoretically* possible for doctors to provide more, but they generally don't.

          I'm in Canada and I'm on thyroid medication. Every single year:

          I go to the doctor
          He orders the same blood test
          I take it
          The results come in. He uses a computer program to see the dosage required (I see the program) , and writes a prescription.

          I could do this whole thing myself given that computer program and ability to prescribe myself. Well, a nurse could certainly do it and a pharmacist could certainly do it.

          This is the case for most general practice. You simply don't need a family doctor for most things. A lesser health professional will do in most cases.

          If there are complications, you will no doubt be referred to a specialist anyways.

          I 100%, we need a new 'basic doctor'... or empower nurses or nurse practitioners more like they do in Washington State.

          If engineers worked like doctors worked, you'd need a licensed professional engineer with a PhD to install a wireless router in your home.

        • As someone who had high blood pressure and triglycerides and was put on medications for both, I will tell you that the kind of monitoring the doctor did was minimal and could easily be replaced.

          My "monitoring" was a couple of lipid panels run by the lab in his office, which could easily be outsourced to any place with lab techs who can draw blood. The rest of the monitoring was me taking my own damn blood pressure and charting the results in Excel.

          The doctor's value was near zero as far as I can tell, and less than zero if you add in the work I did changing my diet and losing a bunch of weight (all of which I did in spite of his advice), which lowered my blood pressure and totally altered my lipid profile.

          IMHO, what's needed is a new, "basic doctor" type degree that has the power to prescribe most meds and monitor most medical conditions but doesn't 8-10 years of education and training costing the GDP of a small country.

          We have a doctor "shortage" because it costs $250k to become a doctor, the people who actually get the degree specialize where the easy money is (high level of non-insurance reimbursed business which is paid in cash, up front, no on call hours, etc, like dermatology) and nobody wants to practice in high-voume, low-margin areas like being a GP.

          As patients we should be able to monitor ourselves, we should be able to do research into our conditions ourselves. We need doctors for sophisticated treatments, expensive diagnostic exams, and specific information about our conditions. We don't need doctors appointments for asthma if we know what medication we are on and have had a prescription in the past. We don't need mandatory appointments for GERD if acid reflux medication is OTC and we can afford it. We don't need doctors appointments for blood gluco

      • Fact is these are serious chronic conditions that need some monitoring by doctors.

        Yeah, but how much? That's the big question. For simple things like hypertension that's easily controlled with a medication or two, a script could handle it - input age, sex, weight, allergies, co morbid conditions and a couple of other things and out pops some pills. The next problem is getting the patient to take them and seeing if they work.

        Carefully checking the efficacy of a blood pressure medication is probably something that needs a human, a physical exam of some limited sort and some lab work (at

    • by MEK (71818) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:43AM (#39929597)

      ... are re-classified as no longer needing to be prescribed, insurance companies stop covering the cost of such drugs. Lots of expensive drugs (for allergies, for gatrointestinal problems) once covered by insurance are now totally NOT covered. A big win for insurance companies.

      • I had the same thought but you beat me to it.
      • >insurance companies stop covering the cost of such drugs

        He speaks the truth. This is a very smelly change. It benefits only the drug companies and the insurance companies. The doctors get cut out of the loop and the patients (who might be unaware that statins don't [blogspot.com] work [blogspot.com]) will carry on buying them because they don't have to visit one of the few enlightened doctors that understands this.

      • Yet another big win for the insurance companies.
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Generally, when prescription drugs are re-classified as no longer needing to be prescribed,

        Some of the most common drugs never needed to be prescribed.
        The system is setup so that while a drug is under patent, it's also under prescription.
        Then the pharmaceutical companies soak the insurance companies for big payouts.

        Once the patent runs out, the generics show up, the drug is taken off the prescription list,
        and the pharmaceutical company replaces it with a slightly tweaked version that is under patent protection.
        Rinse, repeat, buy last year's blockbuster drug (at prescription strength!) over the co

      • by theNetImp (190602) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:07PM (#39929971)

        Right, but the difference between becoming 100% over the counter and what is being suggested is that they are still prescription drugs, you are just prescribing them to yourself by answering a list of questions. Making it so a person like me who has been sucking on the same albuterol inhaler for 20 years doesn't have to go to the doctor every time it's time for a refill, which is usually every couple months. Or for a refill on the Advair dry inhaler which is EVERY month. For something that hasn't changed in years, I see no reason why the doctor still needs a cut. It would also make it easier for asthmatics who run out of meds during the weekend. Do you know how long it takes to get the doctor on call to return your call? It's faster to go to the ER which I have done for just that reason. Helping increase our healthcare costs. I am all for this.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          +1 informative

          BTW someone talked about prescription drugs being patented (and therefore overpriced). You can always ask your doctor for over-the-counter versions, if you don't want the prescription version. It's a business transaction & just like any business transaction you negotiate the deal. You don't have to just blindly accept what the salesman (doctor) is handing you.

          • by PCM2 (4486)

            BTW someone talked about prescription drugs being patented (and therefore overpriced). You can always ask your doctor for over-the-counter versions, if you don't want the prescription version. It's a business transaction & just like any business transaction you negotiate the deal. You don't have to just blindly accept what the salesman (doctor) is handing you.

            Some of the doctors I've been to recently have made a point of acting like this was not the case (when I agree it clearly is). As in:

            "I can prescribe you this version or I can prescribe you this other version, which includes something a little extra. I think either one will help your problem. It's up to you."

            "Well... how do I decide? What's the cost difference between the two?"

            "I don't know."

            I think to some extent they're not bullshitting me, because that's a complex question. It's largely the insurance com

            • There are some exceptions; but where a branded and generic version of a given drug are available, the dispensing pharmacist can substitute the generic compound even if the prescription is written for the common brand name.

              I'm told that this is maddening for a certain subset of people who experience different effects from the different versions; but it makes it substantially easier to do price-comparison at the point of sale, with somebody who can tap the insurance details into their system and actually q
            • by Ken D (100098)

              It's more complex even than you have stated. The cost is going to depend upon which drugstore you go to, what your insurance company has negotiated with that drugstore (considered a trade secret BTW).

              It's a nightmare.

              And anyone who claims that Americans are not cost conscious when it comes to medical expenses is being willfully obtuse. They system is designed to make it impossible to comparison shop. You have a procedure done and you don't even know how many different entities are going to send you a bil

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        On the other hand, price for drugs drop when demand increases and I'm sure it would increase if people can just buy heart or bloodpressure meds OTC from the pharmacist. You won't need insurance..... you can just pay cash directly. Like I do. Like my parents do.

        • by berashith (222128)

          i dont think that normal basic econ applies to big pharma. The manufacturing facilities are VERY expensive to license or re-tool, so the production level is not easily or quickly adjusted to demand. This moves things in the opposite direction than you would expect. Also, they have no reason ( especially if patented ) to reduce price for any reason. Look at the prices of the same drugs in the US and Canada. The difference in cost isnt only based on the Canadian government kicking money into the pool, a lot o

    • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:44AM (#39929625)

      Reminds me of the contact lens industry.

      1) Eye doctor determines your prescription
      2) New appointment necessary with someone else for "contact lens fitting"
      3) Order your contacts anywhere you like for 1 year
      4) The doctors force you to pay for a new set of appointments, no matter how happy you are with your current prescription

      This is obvious protectionism. I don't need a "fitting" every year. My contact lens size has never changed. I don't need a new prescription until I determine that I'm not seeing well enough anymore. I'll come in for a new apointment when my eyes are bothering me. Otherwise, leave me alone, dammit!

      • Yes, and contacts are just like treatment for hypertension and diabetes... you have no idea what you're talking about.

        • Health care costs are rising too fast for us not to ask how much do we really spend on health theater (borrowing from the TSA discussion terminology). Marketplace on NPR last week mentioned a recent study (I can't seem to find it right now) that cardiac surgery versus medication is correlated to the number of qualified surgeons at the hospital. It could be greed or it could be every problem is a nail, but situations like the GP mentions do exist and are a problem in health care costs.
      • by Talderas (1212466)

        Yes, because the entire reason your prescription can change year to year has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the shape of your eye lens is constantly changing.

      • by PRMan (959735)
        Except that it's a proven fact that people can't tell when their eyes have changed. I noticed my brother's glasses weren't working for him before he did. We were watching TV and he couldn't read some small-but-not-tiny text on the screen that the rest of us could read. He thought he was fine until he came over to our house. Then he went to the optometrist and found out that he was way off, so bad that he shouldn't have been driving that way.
      • Change eye doctors. Never even heard of anything like that. Where are you?

      • I never had a "fitting" appointment. One for an regular checkup and prescription adjustment, and that was that.
    • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:48AM (#39929715)

      From one of the articles:

      Move would increase patients’ out-of-pocket costs

      This is why its going to happen. Anything to make the middle class more miserable is always implemented. Doesn't matter if it makes sense or not. If it'll cost more and make people miserable, it's a go.

      Isn't some of that stuff super expensive? I think one big problem is having to pay list price for blood pressure medication, you'll have future darwin award winners thinking... hmm doc says I need to take this $175/month OTC pill thats no longer covered by insurance for my blood pressure or I'll have a heart attack... but this advertisement says aspirin helps with heart attacks and a three month supply is like $3/month.

      Certain infections makes me worry about massive over-non-prescription issues. I can see the "womens magazines" headlines already: Kids got sniffles? Here's the secret answers for the pharmacist so you can give your kid zithromax every time they get a virus...

      It strikes me as about as unintelligent as removing preventative care like immunizations from coverage... in other words that guarantees we're going to be stuck with it.

      • Having people pay for medications out of pocket might actually be a big positive on the overall cost of medical care in this country. Right now doctors often prescribe expensive on-patent drugs that have little or no benefit over off-patent cheap drugs because of pressure and marketing from pharmaceutical companies.

        One example of this is a new family of drugs (DPP-4 inhibitors) one of which is sitagliptin. It regulates production of insulin in type II diabetic patients very well. It costs $250 a month and i

    • Well technically they should because you should be examined by a professional with some experience to make sure that the symptoms due to something "simple" and not something else. However one of the rare times I went to a doctor (in Canada though) I described the symptoms and he was so rushed he just gave me a prescription without examining me. Statistically it probably makes sense - treat the likely common causes and if that doesn't work then examine. However, if doctors are going to operate this way (and
      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        I asked a med student friend of mine (in canada) at one point about this sort of thing years ago. Apparently some places have 'bulletins' that go around regularly about all the common diseases this week/month and what's going on, and from that they know what 90% of case load is going to be for some doctors (the front line ones generally at walk in clinics that sort of thing).

        If you show up with the common ailment of the month, or if there's really no different options for treatment for disease A and diseas

    • by doston (2372830)

      I'm pretty sure the American Medical Association (made up of doctors) is going to go apeshit over even the suggestion of this.

      Made up of lobbyists more like. http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/200906110008 [politicalcorrection.org]

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Fuck 'em. The vast majority of minor problems and many major ones could be addressed by a "checklist/flowchart" system.

      Physicians only have a few minutes to go through their PERSONAL checklist/flowchart, and they often know less about the problem than the patient.

      My wife had Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, courtesy of the tick invasion of the South that so many LOCAL physicians don't even think to consider. She had to download and present info to (multiple) docs until they sent her for testing which

    • I'm pretty sure the American Medical Association (made up of doctors) is going to go apeshit over even the suggestion of this.

      Yup. A few months ago I was listening to NPR, and there was a spokeswoman from the AMA arguing that it should be illegal for people to sequence their DNA, because only a doctor is qualified to interpret the data. She didn't want to outlaw a treatment or drug, but mere knowledge about your own body.

      The AMA would outlaw oral thermometers if they thought they could get away with it.

    • Considering that the AMA only represents a small fraction of actual practicing doctors, who cares? Of course, considering that one of the reasons that the AMA represents so few doctors is because they have often sold their support for certain programs even though most doctors actually opposed said programs, whether or not they support this one will be a question of whether or not there is money in it for the AMA (not the doctors who are members of the AMA, but just the AMA itself...and its executives).
  • Fantastic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:42AM (#39929585)

    I am hugely thrilled at this prospect. It would mean that I can have more respect for my doctor, rather than looking at her as a person with a magic signature. For the past several years I have been going to a "Minute Clinic" which is a nurse-operated room, in which the nurse takes my vitals, reads questions off a computer screen and enters the answers, and then gives me a prescription. There is definitely room for medical judgment there, but mostly that judgment is used to send you to a doctor if the computer tells the nurse to do so. There's no reason for me to need to see a person for many types of illnesses when a questionnaire can suffice - no reason other than institutional inertia.

    My mom used to tell me about the old days when you asked the pharmacist for medicine - told them what your problem was and they would give you the cure. There's another profession rooted in the old ways for no good reason. The pharmacy takes pills out of one container, counts them, puts them into another container, and sticks a label on it and bills my insurance. Takes 15 minutes and requires a highly trained pharmacist for reasons I cannot fathom.

    I have a hard time believing people go into primary care medicine (or pharmacy, for that matter) to see jerks like me, who just want a piece of paper that says I can have my pills. Seems like this could be a benefit for all.

    • here's another profession rooted in the old ways for no good reason. The pharmacy takes pills out of one container, counts them, puts them into another container, and sticks a label on it and bills my insurance.

      Because the pharmacist is the one that's likely to see that the doc-in-a-box prescribed indomethacin to deal with that gout attack you're having, but that you're already on an ACE inhibitor for your high blood pressure and thus at risk for getting dangerously high potassium levels from the combin
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1 Medication interactions
      2 going through your list of problems and finding meds which do not make other things worse.
      3 people on slashdot may be able to look up and understand a great deal about medications and things but for Average Joe this would be bad. Most people cant even follow a typed out list of instructions after the physician visit I really don't think they are going to read the package insert on any medication (It should come with every drug you are prescribed)
      4 understanding what things really

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:43AM (#39929617) Homepage Journal
    I just want to thank the FDA for allowing me to pee without permission.
  • by rs1n (1867908) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:44AM (#39929621)
    A few of my acquaintances are pharmacists, and one of their biggest contributions to the overall health and care of patients is drug interaction and reconciliation. Basically, what this means is that they check that a patient's drugs do not interact with each other in a negative way. They also help patients reduce the number of dependencies on medication. When you start to automate this process, you will need to have a centralized system that handles all patients' drug information as you have now removed the role of various trained medical professionals. A patient will not know that his need for a prescriptive drug may adversely affect his health because he is already taking another drug. That's sort of why we have pharmacists and doctors.
    • by vlm (69642)

      Can't you replace all of that with a very small shell script?

      I mean dpkg and its conflict detection code wasn't even all that cutting edge back in '93, I'm not seeing it as being a big challenge now. I guess what I'm asking is when was the first line of error detection code written that had an "and" clause and output an error message? The 50s I'd think?

      • by DeadDecoy (877617)
        No. The problem is, this task depends on a LOT of contextual information that simply is not in the medication list. Like what is the patient taking from another doctor? Is the patient taking their pills? Did they stop due to: unknown reaction, felt better, forgot, rationing the pills because they cost too much, or didn't feel like it? Are the pills actually helping? Are there any conditions which may affect the effectiveness of the pills? (using pills as a catchall for whatever is prescribed). Sometimes the
      • The problem is getting all that information in one place, not really the basics of sorting out interactions. It'd need to be a large, centralized database (at least covering the entire country) and would need to, if this sort of change happened, also track a decent chunk of non-prescription medication somehow.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "you will need to have a centralized system that handles all patients' drug information as you have now removed the role of various trained medical professionals."

      Beats not being able to afford care. I'll take the trade.

  • Soon, the government will further cut costs by removing all teachers from public education, and let citizens simply take online courses. How about we stop make cuts in places that don't need cuts, and cut out stuff like ridiculous travel expenses for congressmen?
  • by SydShamino (547793) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:46AM (#39929665)

    TFA mentions the impact on Medicare for prescription drug costs, but it doesn't discuss the impact for non-seniors. My prescription drug plan doesn't cover over-the-counter medication. As of last year my flex pay plan won't let me buy over-the-counter medication with pre-tax dollars. Together, both of those mean that moving all these drugs to non-prescription will make them significantly more expensive to me and all the millions of other people who pay for them now through their insurance.

    Now, of course, you might think that insurance providers would be happy to fund these drugs even while over-the-counter, since it's far cheaper to subsidize (for example) blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering medication for life than cover one emergency trip to the hospital and bypass surgery, but I really don't think most insurance providers think that way.

    • Now, of course, you might think that insurance providers would be happy to fund these drugs even while over-the-counter, since it's far cheaper to subsidize (for example) blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering medication for life than cover one emergency trip to the hospital and bypass surgery, but I really don't think most insurance providers think that way.

      OTOH, its even cheaper to not cover the blood pressure medication and have you pay for it OTC and still take it and get the benefits.

      Its also cheaper f

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        Its also cheaper for the insurance company not to cover the blood pressure medication, have you not buy it OTC, and have you die from a heart attack before you are able to get (and rack up a bill for) medical attention that they would have to pay for.

        Yeah. Because nobody ever has a heart attack, gets rushed by ambulance to the emergency room, gets put on oxygen and in-home hospice care, and dies a month later. Good cost/benefit analysis there.

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      TFA mentions the impact on Medicare for prescription drug costs, but it doesn't discuss the impact for non-seniors. My prescription drug plan doesn't cover over-the-counter medication. As of last year my flex pay plan won't let me buy over-the-counter medication with pre-tax dollars. Together, both of those mean that moving all these drugs to non-prescription will make them significantly more expensive to me and all the millions of other people who pay for them now through their insurance.

      This is just my suspicion, but I suspect the pharma companies would be against it for this reason. Since they can fleece the insurance companies with the higher profit margins while protecting demand, the overall profit rises. Insurance companies will probably support it saying that such measures will help lower medical costs, mostly to them by allowing them to drop the drugs from their coverage.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      What's your copay for a doctor visit? I think for me it might be $30. Are the prescription drugs still cheaper?

  • I'm sure some pharmaceutical organisations helped the FDA a little bit in coming up with this idea...

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      Unlikely. This move will lower the demand and/or price of the product leading to less profits. It's more likely support for this is coming from within the insurance realm.

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3NO@SPAMjustconnected.net> on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:47AM (#39929691)

    Statins and albuterol are quite safe for most people, but letting the average guy decide to use them is pretty dangerous. To quote George Carlin: think of how stupid the average person is, then realize that half of them are stupider than that.

    I think what makes a lot more sense is for long-term prescriptions - a kid with asthma is going to need an inhaler for years, and a kid allergic to bee stings or peanuts or something is going to need an Epi-Pen for the rest of his life. It makes a lot of sense to give a prescription for a year or two.

    But on the other hand, the prescription is a good "timer" - my father has high cholesterol (even on a near-no cholesterol diet) so he's on Lipitor and will be for the foreseeable future. His prescription lasts almost exactly 3 months, at which time he goes to his cardiologist for bloodwork anyway. That makes sense to me - most of these conditions require some attention, and having the prescription run out is a good way to get it.

  • by StefanJ (88986) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:48AM (#39929705) Homepage Journal

    "Ask your Rx Kiosk Today about Effluvium DX."

    "Effluvium. For Whatever You Have."

    Patients taking Effluvium have reported Dry Mouth, Disorientation, and Spontaneous Testicular Detonation. Effluvium should not be taken before operating heavy machinery, using social media, driving or eating. Read and sign the Effluvium arbitration agreement and release from liability before taking Effluvium DX.

  • So I can self diagnose high cholesterol on the honor system at a kiosk, and yet, cough syrup and Pseudoephedrine have to be regulated...
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:01PM (#39929879) Journal

    Lisinopril. It's one of the most common prescription medications on earth, and is so inexpensive that it's easily affordable without insurance. Yet doctors hold your refills hostage to expensive monthly office visits, which consist in their entirety of a nurse practitioner taking your weight and blood pressure, measurements anyone with high blood pressure already takes at home. This nonsense must stop.

  • The point of prescription drugs is to prevent unauthorised purchase. This system can be easily tricked.

  • by EdwinFreed (1084059) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:04PM (#39929935)
    But mostly a lose for patients.

    The reason it's a win for doctors is that in our "fee for service" system they don't make much on a simple office visit, especially if they have to take the time to write a prescription. There's also ongoing overhead for prescriptions - whenever you run out of refills the pharmacy has to reauth, which takes up staff time. (This last is why the office where my son works has additional staff on hand on fridays, which is the day that everyone does their refills.) It may also reduce liability, although exactly how that will play out is harder to predict.

    It's an obvious win for insurance because most OTC stuff isn't covered. And likewise for drug companies, who will sell more product, a lot of it to people who don't really need it.

    The big losers will be patients. Sure, some people will have easier access to the meds they need. But costs will overall be higher, and some of the meds they are talking about aren't all that safe. Statins, for example, may be great at treating high cholesterol, but over time they can cause liver damage. Most of the antihypertensives are reasonably safe when taken at the correct dose, but take a bit too much and things like positional vertigo can occur. And as others have pointed out, the inability to track OTC meds can result in serious drug interactions or overdoses. Indeed, this is already a serious problem with acetaminenophen - so many different products contain it that it's easy to get an overdose, and boom goes your liver.
  • by thegreatemu (1457577) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:17PM (#39930111)

    I still cannot fathom why I have to have a prescription to order new eyeglasses or contact lenses. Yes, you should get your eyes checked out regularly, but a 2-year old prescription is still way better than no glasses at all!

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      you dont.

      Got all the info? go online to zenni optical and buy your own.

      The problem is most people dont have all the tools to figure out their info to order the lenses.

  • Seriously. If I want an extra strong foot cream, I have to take the time off work, go the physician, pay the physician, and then pay for the foot cream. Tell me again how this isn't a racket?

  • I do know that having antibiotics in a field emergency kit is important. IF you are 3 days from civilization and impale yourself on something you really need to start taking an antibiotic to avoid infection. This would go a log way to making it easier to build a full civilian first aid field kit than having to do it "illegally" by scavenging unused pills for the kit.

    I know that the majority of civilians are too stupid to self medicate with things like that, but anyone with advanced field first aid traini

  • I recall one wag claiming Lipitor should be given away with every fast food meal. Sad to see it is still being held hostage by the ultimate drug dealer: Big Pharma.
  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:40PM (#39930505)

    What about birth control? If 90% of women are using it, why can't we just get it over the counter without having to pay for a doctor's visit first?

  • How will this work with insurance, or is that point? Once these are available without prescription, insurance plans don't need to pay for them and the patient pays 100% of the cost?

  • This is a very bad idea! There is a reason that doctors go through all of that training and we go to see doctors for our ailments: because it is neither a good idea nor within our abiliyt and training to diagnose ourselves. Even doctors never self-diagnose, they go to other doctors for a diagnosis. I am sure that Big Pharma would positively drool at the opportunity to be able to easily push more pills on us. I don't trust some computer kiosk to do that for me. Computers follow a black and white algorithm wh
  • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:48PM (#39930643) Homepage Journal

    Not that I'm against this necessarily, but it is interesting to note that these drugs which are currently prescription-only and which do have side-effects might be available over the counter, along with aceteminophen (Tylenol) which causes approx 400 deaths in the US per year, which can be purchased by children... ...but the feds just closed the medical cannabis dispensary nearest me despite it having won awards from the city and being backed by the Chamber of Commerce, having tight security, etc... because although it's over 600 feet from a school (state law) at 960 feet it's less than 1000 feet from a school for the blind by 40 feet... so it had to be shut or the landlord would face criminal charges and asset seizure.

    There's a Walgreens on the corner. Sells tylenol, etc. Also a whole isle of candy bars for the kids.

    Interesting.

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