Imagine getting the drugs you need without a prescription.
Wednesday in Washington, The Food and Drug Administration will consider creating a whole new class of drugs available directly from your pharmacist.
The plan debated at the FDA would let patients go straight to their pharmacists for many drugs now by prescription only. A potential new class of behind–the–counter drugs could include birth control pills, cholesterol drugs and migraine medicine.
The system now used in almost a dozen countries would require that pharmacists play a bigger role, in talking to patients about their needs and drug risks. Pharmacists are on board with that: but many do worry about making drug decisions apart from doctors. Those concerns drive opposition to the plan from the American Medical Association.
Health watchdog groups will testify today about the broader effects. For instance, might insurance companies drop coverage of drugs because they're no longer by prescription? So a lot of questions still about how this would work.
At the FDA on Wednesday, one health watchdog group will advocate trying the plan in a few states first, before rolling it out nationwide.