FDA Weighs Behind-the-Counter Drugs
Behind-the-Counter Drugs Would Be Sold by Pharmacists Without Prescriptions
Some Drugs Already Behind the Counter continued...
Cold and allergy medicines containing the decongestant pseudoephedrine are
also sold behind-the-counter, but that is because Congress passed a law
restricting sales because the drugs can be used to make methamphetamine.
Prescription drugmakers are increasingly interested in finding a new way to
sell products whose patent life may be coming to a close. Merck & Co. tried
in 2005 to gain nonprescription status for the cholesterol drug Zocor. FDA rejected that bid,
saying the company had not proved that over-the-counter sales would be
Carmen Catzione, president of the National Association of Boards of
Pharmacy, said pharmacists could adequately counsel patients about the safe use
of drugs if a "BTC" class were created.
"It would be easy to do, if the pharmacists have the time to do it,"
he tells WebMD.
But others warned that easing restriction on more drugs would take away a
key reason many patients schedule doctors' visits: to get a prescription.
Laurie Tansman, a nutritionist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York,
warned that more patients will skip regular checkups if they can easily buy
drugs without input from doctors. She also said fewer patients would pursue
preventive measures like diet and exercise if they can easily buy a pill for a
problem like cholesterol.
"Increasing access to drugs via 'BTC' is not the answer to better
health," she said.
The FDA has also not determined if it can create a new behind-the-counter
drug class on its own, or whether Congress would have to pass a new law to do