Thursday, March 06, 2008

Pain pill may go over the counter

As a pharmacist and as a patient, I'm thrilled about the prospect of OTC naproxen. My view is that it is no more dangerous than ibuprofen, which has been over the counter for years. It's analgesic effect and longer duration of action seals the deal for me.

It is curious that Health Canada has decided to address this now. Did someone request that the regulatory body re-evaluate the status of naproxen? With the long list of drugs already waiting for approval, it seems unlikely they decided to create a "make work" project for themselves.

From the National Post:
Health Canada is proposing to let a form of Naproxen be sold without a prescription for the first time, which would make the popular drug easily the most powerful painkiller available over the counter.

Some experts are questioning the change, though, noting that it comes as scientists shine increasing light on such "NSAID" medications and the risks they pose. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause ulcers and other stomach problems, may increase the risk of heart attacks and, one recent study suggests, seem to boost the danger of birth defects if taken by pregnant women.

"It's strange that we would be doing it now," said Dr. Pat Morley-Forster, head of the University of Western Ontario's multi-disciplinary pain centre. "I think it's a bad move."

Other specialists say the medicine is already available over the counter in the United States, and many Canadians bring shipments of it back across the border. They also note that Naproxen appears to be safer for the heart than other NSAIDs, such as Celebrex and Ibuprofen, which is sold in Canada without a prescription. ...more

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