Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Prescription power from the pharmacist

Look for a lot more news regarding "behind the counter" status in the United States next week as the FDA starts hearings on November 14. I noticed that the same concerns that physicians have voiced re: pharmacist prescribing in Canada are mentioned in this American debate.

From the Wilmington (DE) News Journal:
Someday soon, you may be able to walk into your local pharmacy and walk out with prescription-strength drugs without ever having seen a doctor.

The Food and Drug Administration is considering creating a new category of drugs that would no longer require a doctor's prescription. The category -- midway between prescription and non-prescription drugs -- would be accessible only after consulting with a pharmacist.

It's far from clear how the FDA's proposed "behind-the-counter" classification would work, but even the idea is stirring up controversy in the health care field. While no drugs have been identified as candidates, experts think drugs such as birth-control pills and migraine pain relievers -- those that patients already take with little physician supervision -- could be among the first to be considered.

Some consumer groups and pharmacists say not having to go through a physician would make it more convenient for patients to get needed drugs. Physicians' groups, on the other hand, have raised patient safety concerns in lining up against the proposal. ...more

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