FDA considering moving some prescriptions to over the counter

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- What if you didn't need a doctor's prescription the next time you went to the pharmacy?

It could happen if officials at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) make some proposed changes.

The FDA is considering making drugs that treat such conditions like asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes available over the counter.

It's a move Samantha Acevedo is not so sure about.

“I still think it should go through a physician and pharmacist so that people get the correct answers,” Acevedo said.

The FDA believes this might help people treat conditions they haven't taken care of before because of the time and cost of seeing a doctor.
“You might be able to avoid those costs by going directly to the pharmacist to pick up a prescription medication, pharmacist Stuart Gethner said. "But just because you’re now able to go to the pharmacy to get the prescription medication, doesn't mean the prescription costs will stay low.”

Gethner is a Valley pharmacist and owner of the health care website AbleandActive.com.
“So not only does this put a lot of pressure on the system itself to make sure it's effective, but more on us as people because we're not equipped to know certain or look for certain side effects or certain drug interactions,” Gethner continued.

The FDA is considering certain safety measures. One in particular is requiring patients to speak to a pharmacist about the medication.

“This will put more responsibility and drive more traffic probably into our pharmacy and we welcome that, because we feel that is a major component and major ingredient of what we do as pharmacists,” Gethner said.

Dr. Sam Benjamin with Integrative Medicine has mixed feelings about the idea. He thinks consumers won't save money in the long run.

“If people want to go out and spend more money they can,” Benjamin said. “The question is really not the drug, it's the person. Will the people read the information in the package?  If they don't read, it doesn't help.”

Acevedo worries if the FDA goes forward with this idea, many will take advantage of it without much concern for the consequences.

“A lot of people are afraid to ask for information and when they don't ask and just start taking medications they can really hurt themselves,” Acevedo said. “So that does scare me.”

The FDA just wrapped up getting the public's input on the proposal. No word on when the agency plans to make a decision.