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FDA May Let Patients Buy More Drugs Without Prescriptions

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-prescriptions-are-sacred-and-perfect dept.

Medicine 392

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Times reports that the Food and Drug Administration may soon permit Americans to obtain some drugs used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes without obtaining a prescription. They may allow patients to diagnose their ailments by answering questions online or at a pharmacy kiosk in order to buy current prescription-only drugs for conditions such as high cholesterol, certain infections, migraine headaches, asthma or allergies. Some pharmacists embrace the notion that they should be able to dole out medication for patients' chronic conditions without making them go through a doctor. 'This could eliminate the need for a physician visit for certain meds that may have been prescription prior to this change,' said Ronna Hauser, vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association. 'However, there may be circumstances when a patient might need a physician visit and diagnosis and original prescription to start therapy but could continue on that therapy with pharmacist refill authorization capabilities.'" (Read more, below.)Hugh Pickens continues: "Medical providers at public hearings to obtain input on a new paradigm urge caution, saying the government should not try to cut health care costs by cutting out doctors. 'Patients rely on physicians to provide sound diagnosis and treatment information and to help them meet their unique health needs,' says Peter W. Carmel, President of the American Medical Association. 'Expanding many prescription medications to OTC interferes with that important relationship without offering any real benefits to improve patients' health or reduce their costs.'" Other countries seem to do fine with pharmacists being closer to the front line of medicine recommendations; why couldn't the U.S.?"

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Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (5, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929459)

I'm pretty sure the American Medical Association (made up of doctors) is going to go apeshit over even the suggestion of this.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (2)

DRMShill (1157993) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929507)

Possibly, but judging by what I've seen at waiting rooms doctors have no shortage of work load. I think they may be inclined to let this one slide.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929587)

Where do you think that workload comes from?

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930069)

Judging from the times I've been to the ER (a couple times due to bad cuts, once due to meningitis) the massive workload in the ER comes from illegal aliens who use the ER for every little sniffle they get, and people who look like drug addicts looking for a fix. You shouldn't have to wait 2-3 hours for treatment when the only thing stopping blood from spurting all over is applying pressure. If I had my way I'd have ICE profiling patients at every ER and deporting every single illegal who shows up.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (3, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929607)

dging by what I've seen at waiting rooms doctors have no shortage of work load

Yeah, and you can bet they want to KEEP it that way.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929957)

As a compromise, they could let more "routine" procedures like measuring temperature, handing out medicine, or even simple procedures like tonsil removal be handled by Nurses instead of doctors. It would be equivalent to how technicians do most of the routine easy work, rather than expensive engineers.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930029)

Measuring vitals and dispensing medication ARE routinely performed by nurses (though, IIRC, only a Registered Nurse can dispense meds, a Licensed Practical Nurse can't).

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930085)

My doc already does this, except for the 'minor' surgical procedures. In fact, a tech takes my vitals, confirms symptoms, and even draws for tests.

My doc still hands me meds when he has them, though.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (4, Insightful)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929535)

Doctors are busy enough they don't need to do things just "to make more money." We have a shortage of doctors in the USA, ever try to get an appointment with a specialist who doesn't have a several week wait?

Fact is these are serious chronic conditions that need some monitoring by doctors. This is backed up by the evidence. So please stop with the "docs are greedy" bull shit.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (5, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929967)

As someone who had high blood pressure and triglycerides and was put on medications for both, I will tell you that the kind of monitoring the doctor did was minimal and could easily be replaced.

My "monitoring" was a couple of lipid panels run by the lab in his office, which could easily be outsourced to any place with lab techs who can draw blood. The rest of the monitoring was me taking my own damn blood pressure and charting the results in Excel.

The doctor's value was near zero as far as I can tell, and less than zero if you add in the work I did changing my diet and losing a bunch of weight (all of which I did in spite of his advice), which lowered my blood pressure and totally altered my lipid profile.

IMHO, what's needed is a new, "basic doctor" type degree that has the power to prescribe most meds and monitor most medical conditions but doesn't 8-10 years of education and training costing the GDP of a small country.

We have a doctor "shortage" because it costs $250k to become a doctor, the people who actually get the degree specialize where the easy money is (high level of non-insurance reimbursed business which is paid in cash, up front, no on call hours, etc, like dermatology) and nobody wants to practice in high-voume, low-margin areas like being a GP.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (0)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930075)

My doctor has totally stopped even testing my blood for my Lisinopril prescription. I still have him do it because I just paid $25 to go to the Dr and I expect the assholes to do SOMETHING other than re-up the prescription for a year.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930287)

Thanks for raising all our insurance rates. Nothing like unnecessary testing.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930139)

what's needed is a new, "basic doctor" type degree that has the power to prescribe most meds and monitor most medical conditions but doesn't 8-10 years of education and training costing the GDP of a small country.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurse_practitioner

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930011)

Fact is these are serious chronic conditions that need some monitoring by doctors.

Yeah, but how much? That's the big question. For simple things like hypertension that's easily controlled with a medication or two, a script could handle it - input age, sex, weight, allergies, co morbid conditions and a couple of other things and out pops some pills. The next problem is getting the patient to take them and seeing if they work.

Carefully checking the efficacy of a blood pressure medication is probably something that needs a human, a physical exam of some limited sort and some lab work (at some point). A bit more than you could typically do in a pharmacy, but you certainly don't need a full scale medical clinic. The problem comes when the person smokes, is trying to get diabetes, has hypertension and, oh, their back hurts and 'what's this rash'. Then you need the full monty. Your typical doctor's office is designed to handle pretty much every ambulatory complaint and maybe a minor emergency or two. Pharmacists, not so much.

So, as a patient, you have a problem (actually several). Exactly who are you supposed to be seeing? Do you need to see the goofball wearing the white lab coats (why lab coats? I hate lab coats. I didn't even wear them when I did wet lab things.) Maybe. How about the nice nurse practitioner? Maybe. Nobody really knows. All of the data is horribly skewed. The nurse practitioner centric data tends to include mostly 'simple' patients with only one or two problems. The doctor centric literature has stories of edge cases that the NP missed (and likely 5/10 physicians would do exactly the same). Like much data in what essentially amounts to the social sciences, it can be read however you want to read it.

You look at big HMO type thingys like Kaiser and Group Health (Pacific NW), they use a fairly complex tiered method of treating people - some Nurse Practitioners / Physician Assistants, some docs, some pharmacists, social workers, physical therapists, etc. You talk to people enrolled in such plans and you find two broad groups of people. Those that are satisfied with the system and those that aren't. Looking at who those people are, the generally healthy group (most people), like the system, like the easy access, the ability to escalate care if needed but mostly get the care they think they need when the need it. The sicker, more complex group of people hate the sometimes rigid guidelines, really want to see a single (or small number of) providers and don't like the HMOs.

Both groups spend a lot of money in the system. The former because there are many more of them (most people AREN'T really sick), the latter because their health needs are so complex and difficult.

The physician centric fee for service model is squarely designed for the latter group of people (hey, it makes sense, we make more money off them....). But a lot of docs have found that a good life can be had by seeing 30+ people a day and not doing much for them. That's the typical primary care model in the US and it's batshit insane.

The whining by the AMA and various other groups is short term self centered and long term pretty bizarre. Especially the American Academy of Family Physicians. It's pretty clear that the system isn't going to produce anywhere near the number of FPs needed and I, for one, am perfectly happy not seeing something so breathlessly simple that a script can do it. But hey, if it works for you...

But until you drastically change how medical providers are reimbursed, you're going to have these huge problems. Everybody is trying to get their 'fair' share of a shrinking pie. And, at least in the US, reimbursement is so drastically screwed up that nobody has a chance in hell of figuring out how to fix it.

tl;dr - letting pharmacists treat hypertension and diabetes probably doesn't make much sense, but then nothing else does, so why start now?

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930013)

They aren't greedy; they're just very deep in debt.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (-1, Troll)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930019)

>>>We have a shortage of doctors in the USA

That's what happens when the government installs price-fixing and says doctors can't charge more than X amount for a procedure (oftentimes below actual cost). Young adults choose other careers that pay more money (or don't require 70 hour weeks or 10 years training). Price fixing creates shortages.

I thought about being a doctor but said "no way" to that idea when I learned I could make just as much money/hour doing engineering... and only needed 4 years training.

Generally, when prescription drugs.... (5, Interesting)

MEK (71818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929597)

... are re-classified as no longer needing to be prescribed, insurance companies stop covering the cost of such drugs. Lots of expensive drugs (for allergies, for gatrointestinal problems) once covered by insurance are now totally NOT covered. A big win for insurance companies.

Re:Generally, when prescription drugs.... (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929817)

I had the same thought but you beat me to it.

Re:Generally, when prescription drugs.... (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929909)

>insurance companies stop covering the cost of such drugs

He speaks the truth. This is a very smelly change. It benefits only the drug companies and the insurance companies. The doctors get cut out of the loop and the patients (who might be unaware that statins don't [blogspot.com] work [blogspot.com] ) will carry on buying them because they don't have to visit one of the few enlightened doctors that understands this.

Re:Generally, when prescription drugs.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930065)

No it doesn't only benefit companies. It benefits patients who have to spend time and money visiting doctors for things they don't need.

It benefits people who are buying insurance in that they don't need to pay for unneccessary doctors visits for themselves and others.

If the current setup is beneficial for patients why don't we start requiring prescriptions for Aspirin and Ibuprofin. Maybe some of the people buying these for headaches really have a tumor or something and should be talking to a doctor.

Re:Generally, when prescription drugs.... (1)

captbob2002 (411323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929919)

Yet another big win for the insurance companies.

Re:Generally, when prescription drugs.... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929941)

Generally, when prescription drugs are re-classified as no longer needing to be prescribed,

Some of the most common drugs never needed to be prescribed.
The system is setup so that while a drug is under patent, it's also under prescription.
Then the pharmaceutical companies soak the insurance companies for big payouts.

Once the patent runs out, the generics show up, the drug is taken off the prescription list,
and the pharmaceutical company replaces it with a slightly tweaked version that is under patent protection.
Rinse, repeat, buy last year's blockbuster drug (at prescription strength!) over the counter for 1/20th the price.

This proposal is just going to extend that farce to other wildly popular out-of-patent drugs

Re:Generally, when prescription drugs.... (4, Insightful)

theNetImp (190602) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929971)

Right, but the difference between becoming 100% over the counter and what is being suggested is that they are still prescription drugs, you are just prescribing them to yourself by answering a list of questions. Making it so a person like me who has been sucking on the same albuterol inhaler for 20 years doesn't have to go to the doctor every time it's time for a refill, which is usually every couple months. Or for a refill on the Advair dry inhaler which is EVERY month. For something that hasn't changed in years, I see no reason why the doctor still needs a cut. It would also make it easier for asthmatics who run out of meds during the weekend. Do you know how long it takes to get the doctor on call to return your call? It's faster to go to the ER which I have done for just that reason. Helping increase our healthcare costs. I am all for this.

Re:Generally, when prescription drugs.... (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930201)

+1 informative

BTW someone talked about prescription drugs being patented (and therefore overpriced). You can always ask your doctor for over-the-counter versions, if you don't want the prescription version. It's a business transaction & just like any business transaction you negotiate the deal. You don't have to just blindly accept what the salesman (doctor) is handing you.

Re:Generally, when prescription drugs.... (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930113)

On the other hand, price for drugs drop when demand increases and I'm sure it would increase if people can just buy heart or bloodpressure meds OTC from the pharmacist. You won't need insurance..... you can just pay cash directly. Like I do. Like my parents do.

Re:Generally, when prescription drugs.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930411)

Most of the blood pressure medicines are cheap. I would certainly save by changing them to be non-prescription or to be a prescription that doesn't need renewed. My co-pay for generics is $5/30 day, and all but 1 of mine are less than that (3 blood pressure, 2 for irregular heartbeat), the the one that's not isn't much over.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (4, Insightful)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929625)

Reminds me of the contact lens industry.

1) Eye doctor determines your prescription
2) New appointment necessary with someone else for "contact lens fitting"
3) Order your contacts anywhere you like for 1 year
4) The doctors force you to pay for a new set of appointments, no matter how happy you are with your current prescription

This is obvious protectionism. I don't need a "fitting" every year. My contact lens size has never changed. I don't need a new prescription until I determine that I'm not seeing well enough anymore. I'll come in for a new apointment when my eyes are bothering me. Otherwise, leave me alone, dammit!

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929671)

Yes, and contacts are just like treatment for hypertension and diabetes... you have no idea what you're talking about.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930053)

Health care costs are rising too fast for us not to ask how much do we really spend on health theater (borrowing from the TSA discussion terminology). Marketplace on NPR last week mentioned a recent study (I can't seem to find it right now) that cardiac surgery versus medication is correlated to the number of qualified surgeons at the hospital. It could be greed or it could be every problem is a nail, but situations like the GP mentions do exist and are a problem in health care costs.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930021)

Yes, because the entire reason your prescription can change year to year has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the shape of your eye lens is constantly changing.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930041)

Except that it's a proven fact that people can't tell when their eyes have changed. I noticed my brother's glasses weren't working for him before he did. We were watching TV and he couldn't read some small-but-not-tiny text on the screen that the rest of us could read. He thought he was fine until he came over to our house. Then he went to the optometrist and found out that he was way off, so bad that he shouldn't have been driving that way.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930159)

Change eye doctors. Never even heard of anything like that. Where are you?

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930215)

I never had a "fitting" appointment. One for an regular checkup and prescription adjustment, and that was that.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930285)

Try 1-800-contacts. My wife used to go there, and they never had a problem with using an "expired" prescription.

That said, she had been buying contacts there for about 4-5 years on the same prescription. A year ago she decided to get another eye exam. When she got contacts with the new prescrption, she said there was a big difference in how well she could see. She never realized there was a problem with her old prescription. She thought she could see just fine. It's sort of like the old frog in boiling water story. When your eyes change just a tiny bit each day, you never notice the difference.

So yeah, there may be a certain value in not having to get a new prescription each year, but don't go overboard.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929715)

From one of the articles:

Move would increase patients’ out-of-pocket costs

This is why its going to happen. Anything to make the middle class more miserable is always implemented. Doesn't matter if it makes sense or not. If it'll cost more and make people miserable, it's a go.

Isn't some of that stuff super expensive? I think one big problem is having to pay list price for blood pressure medication, you'll have future darwin award winners thinking... hmm doc says I need to take this $175/month OTC pill thats no longer covered by insurance for my blood pressure or I'll have a heart attack... but this advertisement says aspirin helps with heart attacks and a three month supply is like $3/month.

Certain infections makes me worry about massive over-non-prescription issues. I can see the "womens magazines" headlines already: Kids got sniffles? Here's the secret answers for the pharmacist so you can give your kid zithromax every time they get a virus...

It strikes me as about as unintelligent as removing preventative care like immunizations from coverage... in other words that guarantees we're going to be stuck with it.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929991)

From one of the articles:

Move would increase patients’ out-of-pocket costs

Isn't some of that stuff super expensive? I think one big problem is having to pay list price for blood pressure medication, you'll have future darwin award winners thinking... hmm doc says I need to take this $175/month OTC pill thats no longer covered by insurance for my blood pressure or I'll have a heart attack... but this advertisement says aspirin helps with heart attacks and a three month supply is like $3/month.

I am on a hydrochlorothiazide and lisinopril generic combo to treat my high blood pressure.

Without insurance, my cost for this is $10 for a 90 day supply--from walmart or walgreens.

With insurance, it costs nothing except what comes out of my check for insurance coverage...this WAY is more than $10 every 90 days.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930087)

Having people pay for medications out of pocket might actually be a big positive on the overall cost of medical care in this country. Right now doctors often prescribe expensive on-patent drugs that have little or no benefit over off-patent cheap drugs because of pressure and marketing from pharmaceutical companies.

One example of this is a new family of drugs (DPP-4 inhibitors) one of which is sitagliptin. It regulates production of insulin in type II diabetic patients very well. It costs $250 a month and is being pushed very heavily. An alternative to this is something like glypizide that does the same thing, only less selectively. Glypizide costs $4 a month. For lots of patients glypizide is just as effective as an overall treatment.

With the current system patents are much more likely to get sitagliptin because their health care covers it. But is it economically a good choice? Or is it being sold in large quantities because there isn't the feedback that an out of pocket expense would cause?

Ultimately I think it's very important to consider the choices being made that impact the overall cost of delivery medical services in the US. Right now we have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, AND by far and away the highest percentage of that income goes to pay for medical care.

Canada, with very similar demographics pays half what we do as a percentage of GDP, and by most measures they are healthier.

It is so bad that the US Federal Government payments for health care are per capita what Canadians pay for health care. Yet Canada gets universal coverage for that same expenditure, but in addition we ALSO have to pay staggering costs for our commercial insurance system.

These costs are a disaster for our economy. In every aspect of life they make our society poorer and less competitive world wide. It cannot continue in this manner.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929745)

Well technically they should because you should be examined by a professional with some experience to make sure that the symptoms due to something "simple" and not something else. However one of the rare times I went to a doctor (in Canada though) I described the symptoms and he was so rushed he just gave me a prescription without examining me. Statistically it probably makes sense - treat the likely common causes and if that doesn't work then examine. However, if doctors are going to operate this way (and I do not think that they should) then why not replace them with a computer? It will make no difference to the level of care and will be much more convenient. If the AMA or Canadian equivalent want to push back against it then great - but that will mean that they must guarantee to do a better job than a computer - that means proper examinations and not being diagnosed from a description of the symptoms.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929945)

I asked a med student friend of mine (in canada) at one point about this sort of thing years ago. Apparently some places have 'bulletins' that go around regularly about all the common diseases this week/month and what's going on, and from that they know what 90% of case load is going to be for some doctors (the front line ones generally at walk in clinics that sort of thing).

If you show up with the common ailment of the month, or if there's really no different options for treatment for disease A and disease B then their options are rather limited.

The doctor *should* also know what questions to ask if you're describing symptoms that would differentiate one problem from another. It's possible you provided all that info, it's possible the doctor asked the right question to clarify. Actually looking at a patient doesn't always provide a lot of useful info.

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (2)

doston (2372830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929911)

I'm pretty sure the American Medical Association (made up of doctors) is going to go apeshit over even the suggestion of this.

Made up of lobbyists more like. http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/200906110008 [politicalcorrection.org]

Re:Cue huge pushback from the AMA in 3...2... (2)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930001)

Fuck 'em. The vast majority of minor problems and many major ones could be addressed by a "checklist/flowchart" system.

Physicians only have a few minutes to go through their PERSONAL checklist/flowchart, and they often know less about the problem than the patient.

My wife had Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, courtesy of the tick invasion of the South that so many LOCAL physicians don't even think to consider. She had to download and present info to (multiple) docs until they sent her for testing which verified HER self-diagnosis.

What we need are more ways to use computers to do repetitive tasks that TASK-SATURATED physicians don't need to do. Sitting in an office for four hours to get a couple of minutes of interaction is bullshit, and it's also NORMAL.

As one with asthma (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929517)

it would be great to not have to visit the doctor once a year just so I can keep breathing.

Re:As one with asthma (2)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930015)

Try being diabetic. What a dick-dance to get basic survival supplies which are RATIONED to maintain a REVENUE stream...

Asthma medication (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929523)

This is a great idea for asthma medication. A lot of poor people don't get decent asthma medication, and end up with ineffective and harmful over-the-counter stuff instead, because they can't go to the doctor. We've had that whole discussion here before.

Re:Asthma medication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929581)

I don't think there are any more OTC asthma medications. The Primatene inhalers were officially banned Jan 1 of this year. I don't know of any other drugs though, but yeah, they do suck.

Re:Asthma medication (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929769)

This is a great idea for asthma medication. A lot of poor people don't get decent asthma medication, and end up with ineffective and harmful over-the-counter stuff instead, because they can't go to the doctor. We've had that whole discussion here before.

Since insurance (both private and government programs like Medicaid) tends to cover prescription drugs but not OTC drugs, making existing drugs OTC rather than prescription, while it may drop the retail price, often makes them less accessible to poor people.

OTOH, for the same reason, it reduces costs to public and private insurers, and increases drug company profits.

Re:Asthma medication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929983)

Fuck poor people -- they can just have their doctor prescribe one of the new, freshly-patented, still-precription-only drugs instead, and my taxes will pay the higher price anyway. As a self-employed diabetic, there's no damn way to afford medical coverage for other than major expenses (which, as I recall, was what medical insurance was originally for, not to pay a doctor every time Timmy has the sniffles) for myself and my family, so I'll just be glad I can get the drugs I need without paying a doctor to represcribe them.

Re:Asthma medication (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930091)

Not true. Asthma inhalers are a great example. The old school CFC inhalers cost about $2 without a prescription. The FDA's ban forced everyone to use the non-CFC inhalers which were $30, and most peoples co-pay, because it was non-generic was $20. But add to that a $20-$50 co-pay for seeing the doctor to get the script and it's actually a lot cheaper to just pay for it yourself if you can.

Then you get into the big-dog medications like Advair and the co-pays can be in excess of $100. (Mine is) but to get this locally it's several hundred dollars. If I can get it without prescription, then I can order it from somewhere cheaper. There's generic advair outside the US that's $35... I'm not sure what affect this policy change would have on that sort of thing but I bet those Canadian websites would stop asking for prescriptions pretty quick.

The entire medical system is an organized price gouging machine operated by the pharmaceutical companies who bride the doctors, congress and put their own staff in the FDA to sway policy.

Re:Asthma medication (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930251)

I remember that ban. Happened twice. First time caught every Asthmatic off guard like my brother. Nothing like the middle of winter where Boise gets Inversions that make our air worse than LA. Then he had to go to the Doctor to get a prescription, and the prescription only last like 6 months at the most. So he'd have to go in again and so on. They lifted the Ban temporarily and put it back in place later. My brother stocked up on the over the counter meds. He still has 1 left that will expire in a month or so. Between the doctors visits and the prescription cast the Over the Counter Meds are usually well worth their money. I even remember him telling the story of the doctor visit "So you think you have Asthma?" was the first question. My brother didn't take that question too well since he's had asthma his entire life and at the time he was 26, I think, and had better doctors diagnose him than the quack that he had to get a prescription from.

Sounds like good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929559)

for corporate drug pushers (aka "drug companies") and their shareholders.

The rest of you are fucked.

Re:Sounds like good news (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929755)

for corporate drug pushers (aka "drug companies") and their shareholders.

Its the other way around. Now instead of getting insurance to pay $500/month or whatever for prescription blood pressure pills, you'll have to try to get $500/month from the end user directly... good luck with that.

Re:Sounds like good news (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929999)

Why am I seeing a guy eating a triple quarter pounder, large fry, and a mega jug of soda popping lipitor like it's M&Ms

Re:Sounds like good news (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930077)

Especially when there are generics that a Iot of doctors don't even try before going for the top-shelf meds because they get the free bennies from Big Pharma.

Fantastic (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929585)

I am hugely thrilled at this prospect. It would mean that I can have more respect for my doctor, rather than looking at her as a person with a magic signature. For the past several years I have been going to a "Minute Clinic" which is a nurse-operated room, in which the nurse takes my vitals, reads questions off a computer screen and enters the answers, and then gives me a prescription. There is definitely room for medical judgment there, but mostly that judgment is used to send you to a doctor if the computer tells the nurse to do so. There's no reason for me to need to see a person for many types of illnesses when a questionnaire can suffice - no reason other than institutional inertia.

My mom used to tell me about the old days when you asked the pharmacist for medicine - told them what your problem was and they would give you the cure. There's another profession rooted in the old ways for no good reason. The pharmacy takes pills out of one container, counts them, puts them into another container, and sticks a label on it and bills my insurance. Takes 15 minutes and requires a highly trained pharmacist for reasons I cannot fathom.

I have a hard time believing people go into primary care medicine (or pharmacy, for that matter) to see jerks like me, who just want a piece of paper that says I can have my pills. Seems like this could be a benefit for all.

Re:Fantastic (2)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930247)

here's another profession rooted in the old ways for no good reason. The pharmacy takes pills out of one container, counts them, puts them into another container, and sticks a label on it and bills my insurance.

Because the pharmacist is the one that's likely to see that the doc-in-a-box prescribed indomethacin to deal with that gout attack you're having, but that you're already on an ACE inhibitor for your high blood pressure and thus at risk for getting dangerously high potassium levels from the combination of the two drugs. The doctor *should* know this, but my experience has been that pharmacists are a lot more on-the-ball than doctors when it comes to pharmacology and especially knowing how drugs can interact with one another.

Re:Fantastic (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930327)

1 Medication interactions
2 going through your list of problems and finding meds which do not make other things worse.
3 people on slashdot may be able to look up and understand a great deal about medications and things but for Average Joe this would be bad. Most people cant even follow a typed out list of instructions after the physician visit I really don't think they are going to read the package insert on any medication (It should come with every drug you are prescribed)
4 understanding what things really mean, every condition has a wide variance in how it presents and the effect on the patient, If I write COPD as a diagnosis (fairly common) that could look very different depending on where they are in the disease course and several other factors. What drug does the patient get?, Is it add driven?, should I put them on spiriva, proventil, symbicort, advair, daliresp, theophyline, prednisone, oxygen? do they need a nebulizer? The pattern of I have x thus I need y is not all there is to it, some drugs shorten your lifespan but the benefits of those drugs in some patients outweigh that risk, sadly these discussions are not had with patients by many physicians as the time is not there (10 minute visits, of which the nurse is rooming the patient for 4 minutes and it takes 2 minutes for them to walk from the lobby to the room.)
Medicine is a hard business the hardest part of which can often be dealing with the social aspects of it, your doctor is overworked and probably does 2-4 hours of work after being done with clinic hours (likely more depending on call schedules and hospital work loads).

Praise the FDA! I am FREE to PEE!! (2)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929617)

I just want to thank the FDA for allowing me to pee without permission.

Re:Praise the FDA! I am FREE to PEE!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929727)

Don't worry, the EPA will take up where the FDA left off.

This cannot and will not work (4, Insightful)

rs1n (1867908) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929621)

A few of my acquaintances are pharmacists, and one of their biggest contributions to the overall health and care of patients is drug interaction and reconciliation. Basically, what this means is that they check that a patient's drugs do not interact with each other in a negative way. They also help patients reduce the number of dependencies on medication. When you start to automate this process, you will need to have a centralized system that handles all patients' drug information as you have now removed the role of various trained medical professionals. A patient will not know that his need for a prescriptive drug may adversely affect his health because he is already taking another drug. That's sort of why we have pharmacists and doctors.

Re:This cannot and will not work (1)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929765)

That's what lawsuits are for! Our litigious society is one step ahead of you rs1n!

Re:This cannot and will not work (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929821)

Can't you replace all of that with a very small shell script?

I mean dpkg and its conflict detection code wasn't even all that cutting edge back in '93, I'm not seeing it as being a big challenge now. I guess what I'm asking is when was the first line of error detection code written that had an "and" clause and output an error message? The 50s I'd think?

Re:This cannot and will not work (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930355)

No. The problem is, this task depends on a LOT of contextual information that simply is not in the medication list. Like what is the patient taking from another doctor? Is the patient taking their pills? Did they stop due to: unknown reaction, felt better, forgot, rationing the pills because they cost too much, or didn't feel like it? Are the pills actually helping? Are there any conditions which may affect the effectiveness of the pills? (using pills as a catchall for whatever is prescribed). Sometimes the complete medication list is not stored in the computer or even in a collection of files across computers, but can only be revealed through patient-doctor interaction. And it's not just the pharmacist who performs reconciliation, rather this task may be performed at different levels of care by focusing on a different facet of the patient. Despite how useful computers are, there's a lot of process they simply cannot replace; streamline: maybe, replace: no.

Re:This cannot and will not work (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930057)

"you will need to have a centralized system that handles all patients' drug information as you have now removed the role of various trained medical professionals."

Beats not being able to afford care. I'll take the trade.

Re:This cannot and will not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930093)

This is already mostly happening.

Gone are the days when a patient had one doctor and one pharmacy. Now that patiens see three different doctors a month and go to whichever giant pharmacy currently has the best coupons, it is nearly impossible to find any meaningful drug interactions or duplications.

It's also pretty uncommon to have a drug interaction so severe that it is even noticed, much less "life saving" or whatever Walgreen's system claims to do.

Up next, education (1)

rs1n (1867908) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929663)

Soon, the government will further cut costs by removing all teachers from public education, and let citizens simply take online courses. How about we stop make cuts in places that don't need cuts, and cut out stuff like ridiculous travel expenses for congressmen?

Just Wait for the Catch (2)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929665)

TFA mentions the impact on Medicare for prescription drug costs, but it doesn't discuss the impact for non-seniors. My prescription drug plan doesn't cover over-the-counter medication. As of last year my flex pay plan won't let me buy over-the-counter medication with pre-tax dollars. Together, both of those mean that moving all these drugs to non-prescription will make them significantly more expensive to me and all the millions of other people who pay for them now through their insurance.

Now, of course, you might think that insurance providers would be happy to fund these drugs even while over-the-counter, since it's far cheaper to subsidize (for example) blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering medication for life than cover one emergency trip to the hospital and bypass surgery, but I really don't think most insurance providers think that way.

Re:Just Wait for the Catch (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929819)

Now, of course, you might think that insurance providers would be happy to fund these drugs even while over-the-counter, since it's far cheaper to subsidize (for example) blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering medication for life than cover one emergency trip to the hospital and bypass surgery, but I really don't think most insurance providers think that way.

OTOH, its even cheaper to not cover the blood pressure medication and have you pay for it OTC and still take it and get the benefits.

Its also cheaper for the insurance company not to cover the blood pressure medication, have you not buy it OTC, and have you die from a heart attack before you are able to get (and rack up a bill for) medical attention that they would have to pay for.

Re:Just Wait for the Catch (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930389)

TFA mentions the impact on Medicare for prescription drug costs, but it doesn't discuss the impact for non-seniors. My prescription drug plan doesn't cover over-the-counter medication. As of last year my flex pay plan won't let me buy over-the-counter medication with pre-tax dollars. Together, both of those mean that moving all these drugs to non-prescription will make them significantly more expensive to me and all the millions of other people who pay for them now through their insurance.

This is just my suspicion, but I suspect the pharma companies would be against it for this reason. Since they can fleece the insurance companies with the higher profit margins while protecting demand, the overall profit rises. Insurance companies will probably support it saying that such measures will help lower medical costs, mostly to them by allowing them to drop the drugs from their coverage.

Who came up with the idea? (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929687)

I'm sure some pharmaceutical organisations helped the FDA a little bit in coming up with this idea...

They're prescriptions for a reason (4, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929691)

Statins and albuterol are quite safe for most people, but letting the average guy decide to use them is pretty dangerous. To quote George Carlin: think of how stupid the average person is, then realize that half of them are stupider than that.

I think what makes a lot more sense is for long-term prescriptions - a kid with asthma is going to need an inhaler for years, and a kid allergic to bee stings or peanuts or something is going to need an Epi-Pen for the rest of his life. It makes a lot of sense to give a prescription for a year or two.

But on the other hand, the prescription is a good "timer" - my father has high cholesterol (even on a near-no cholesterol diet) so he's on Lipitor and will be for the foreseeable future. His prescription lasts almost exactly 3 months, at which time he goes to his cardiologist for bloodwork anyway. That makes sense to me - most of these conditions require some attention, and having the prescription run out is a good way to get it.

Prescription through marketing (3, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929705)

"Ask your Rx Kiosk Today about Effluvium DX."

"Effluvium. For Whatever You Have."

Patients taking Effluvium have reported Dry Mouth, Disorientation, and Spontaneous Testicular Detonation. Effluvium should not be taken before operating heavy machinery, using social media, driving or eating. Read and sign the Effluvium arbitration agreement and release from liability before taking Effluvium DX.

Re:Prescription through marketing (3, Funny)

bosef1 (208943) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929873)

In double-blind trials, differences in the rates of testicular detonation were statistically insignifcant between the male and female trial groups.

Re:Prescription through marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930005)

LOL!

Citation and video clip, please.

Hypochondriacs UNITE! (2)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929747)

So I can self diagnose high cholesterol on the honor system at a kiosk, and yet, cough syrup and Pseudoephedrine have to be regulated...

Re:Hypochondriacs UNITE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930367)

Nobody's figured out how to make the cholesterol medication into a recreational drug yet.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929799)

"Patients rely on physicians to provide sound diagnosis and treatment information and to help them meet their unique health needs"

Has that guy ever been to a doctor? Every doctor I've ever had is extremely dismissive of any condition and very impatient to get the appointment over with. My experience with doctors has primarily been that they are roadblocks to efficient medical care. I can't count the number of times I have had to educate a doctor about my wife's Type I diabetes and insulin, or the number of times that I have received diagnoses that were completely out of line with symptoms.

I once went to a doctor with a high fever, persistent productive cough, and body aches. It was just like the flu but kept going into remission for two weeks and returning for over two months. The doctor sent me to a specialist who decided before he even saw me that I had asthma. His questions during the whole consult were steering me towards accepting asthma as a diagnosis. Finally, I broke down and asked how a high fever relates to asthma. "I don't know about that part," was his response.

About 15 years ago I drove myself to the emergency room because one side of my face went numb and didn't stop. The attending decided I was on drugs until a nurse bothered to take a urine sample and figured out I wasn't. Then the consulting neurologist accused me of faking the Babinski response (I thought reflexes were involuntary, which is why they're supposed to be a good diagnostic tool). Then they did a lumbar puncture and screwed it up and did it again. No one told me to stay lying down after that and they just sent me home with no diagnosis. Then the spinal headache set in while I was at work.

There are dozens more stories. Doctors are as stupid and bumbling as any member of the general public. I think this is a step in the right direction.

Re:What? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930173)

"Every doctor I've ever had is extremely dismissive of any condition and very impatient to get the appointment over with. My experience with doctors has primarily been that they are roadblocks to efficient medical care. I can't count the number of times I have had to educate a doctor about my wife's Type I diabetes and insulin, or the number of times that I have received diagnoses that were completely out of line with symptoms."

You and a considerable army of other people. My wife knows more about managing her diabetes (she fended it off for decades through diet) than the docs who treat her.

Food for thought:
Your car mechanic spends FAR more time fixing your car than a physician spends interacting with you.

Yet contraception remains prescription only? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929833)

Oral contraceptives still remain RX only. Glad theology trumps science, no matter which party is in office.

Med student perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929875)

Med student here. I know the reflex reaction might be, "Well, doctors are just trying to keep the patients to themselves." I can definitely understand this perspective.

However, I don't think the practitioners' group's MO is to maintain doctors as the middlemen between patients and prescriptions. A patient coming in for metformin for diabetes or atorvastatin for cholesterol needs to be asked about other medications that might cross-react with this one, other potential health risks, family history, drug allergies. The doctor also speaks to the patient about his lifestyle and can intervene where a computer can't - the doctor can urge a patient to try diet and exercise before using drugs to lower cholesterol and offer specific suggestions. No drug is without side effects.

A physician's visit can also address unrelated issues - say the patient came in for knee pain and informs the doctor that he smokes. In addition to addressing the knee pain, the doctor can also ask the patient if he'd like to quit smoking and offer resources to help him. A physician may even be the only avenue of intervention for patients who might be suffering from depression or domestic abuse; they come to the doctor for an unrelated problem, and the doctor notices some red flags and offers help and referrals. Preventive visits also go a long way in helping patients avoid a prescription or a kiosk like this entirely in the future. I don't think a kiosk can handle these considerations, and while pharmacists are experts in medications and drug interactions, a doctor's visit is also necessary.

Of course, drugs that have demonstrated, through widespread use over a long period of time, that they are safe enough to be sold over-the-counter, well those obviously should be considered for kiosks like this. But we already have a system in place for that. I am skeptical of a push to circumvent doctor's visits in order to obtain medications that haven't yet proven to be safe for over-the-counter dispensation.

Anyway, just wanted to offer this perspective on why a physician's visit is about much more than a prescription, and why there's more to this practitioners' group's opposition than may be evident on the surface.

Health Savings accounts and Flexible Spending (1)

Agilulf (173852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929877)

This could also affect how you pay for your medications, as of right now, where I live in NC if you have a Health Savings account or a Flexible Spending account for your medical payments, you can no longer use them to pay for non-prescription medications, I think this is a good idea, as long as it isnt a ploy by insurance companies to get out of having to pay for the medications

Lisinopril (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929879)

Lisinopril. It's one of the most common prescription medications on earth, and is so inexpensive that it's easily affordable without insurance. Yet doctors hold your refills hostage to expensive monthly office visits, which consist in their entirety of a nurse practitioner taking your weight and blood pressure, measurements anyone with high blood pressure already takes at home. This nonsense must stop.

Re:Lisinopril (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930401)

some patients end up with hyperkalemia with lisinopril (this can be fatal is severe enough), if you are on lisinopril you should be having a lab draw once a year (probably a bmp or at least a K and Cr. )
http://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/lisinopril.html
well just read it for yourself

Misses the point (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929915)

The point of prescription drugs is to prevent unauthorised purchase. This system can be easily tricked.

I hope it isnt as successful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929923)

as allowing allergy medicines OTC and the great success of combat meth logs. It was much easier with a prescription, and I didn't feel like a criminal for having allergies.

Win for doctors, insurance, and drug companies (2)

EdwinFreed (1084059) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929935)

But mostly a lose for patients.

The reason it's a win for doctors is that in our "fee for service" system they don't make much on a simple office visit, especially if they have to take the time to write a prescription. There's also ongoing overhead for prescriptions - whenever you run out of refills the pharmacy has to reauth, which takes up staff time. (This last is why the office where my son works has additional staff on hand on fridays, which is the day that everyone does their refills.) It may also reduce liability, although exactly how that will play out is harder to predict.

It's an obvious win for insurance because most OTC stuff isn't covered. And likewise for drug companies, who will sell more product, a lot of it to people who don't really need it.

The big losers will be patients. Sure, some people will have easier access to the meds they need. But costs will overall be higher, and some of the meds they are talking about aren't all that safe. Statins, for example, may be great at treating high cholesterol, but over time they can cause liver damage. Most of the antihypertensives are reasonably safe when taken at the correct dose, but take a bit too much and things like positional vertigo can occur. And as others have pointed out, the inability to track OTC meds can result in serious drug interactions or overdoses. Indeed, this is already a serious problem with acetaminenophen - so many different products contain it that it's easy to get an overdose, and boom goes your liver.

Hmm... (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929937)

This is going the same way that investments did. Started off where you basically needed a professional to get you a lot of things, and over time it's become easier for the individual layperson to participate.

Basically, if you want solid advice you find a good financial professional (same for a doctor of course). However, you can TRY to do it yourself. A few succeed, but many do a sub-optimal job. Personally, I think this will increase business for doctors in the long run as people come to them having screwed up their body, or not treated things that should have been.

OTOH... my doctor is a lazy ass, which is why I'm getting a new one. Too many professionals seem to feel entitled to their clients/patients, don't keep up with the times, and quite frankly don't do a very good job providing what they ought to. In that regard I can see how people would want to stop having to go to their doc once a month or every three months just to get a stupid medication. On top of that, it seems like every time I go to the doc he doesn't know shit about anything when it comes to medications anyway. He just says,"Well, it's your choice. Which one would you like to try?" This is the reason I suspect they're putting this legislation out there: It's just the crap shoot we've known all along. Taking medications is just a game of roulette, and it's been a way for doctors to rake in the bucks for a very long time by getting people to think that they should go to the doctor every time they get a headache or get sick. They just don't need to, but that's only if they actually know how to treat it themselves.

I *assume* the legislation will say that a doc needs to diagnose you with a condition once, then you can get medications for that indefinitely. Otherwise I suspect we could see a boom in the snake oil industry again. Caveat emptor.

Personally? It also sounds like a way for big pharma to cash in some more AND jettison responsibility for drugs they create. They'll put the decision square on the shoulders of the consumer instead of on doctors/theAMA.
Shades of gray, pros/cons, etc etc etc

Antibiotics... (1)

tmshort (1097127) | more than 2 years ago | (#39929985)

There are some things that are obvious, e.g. conjunctivitis.

But, I fear that this may cause abuse of antibiotics by those who do not know the difference between bacteria and viruses.

Pushback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39929987)

You are patrially correct, sir.

I went through Pharmacy School for a clinical doctorate that I do not use. At that time, pharmacists were just starting to give things like Flu Shots and outpatient lipid profiles. In many states, even those SIMPLE services were controlled so tightly that Pharmacists needed written prescriptions from patients' Physicians to even give a flu shot. Why not just drop by the Physician's office to get a shot if it's going to be that complicated?

Many chain stores saw futility in the approach of paying someone well into six figures to administer flu shots (which an MA or LPN could do for a quarter of the cost, and with better technique). Other stores used it as a tool to get people in the door, and many "forced" pharmacists to become trained and certified in administering flu shots even though many Pharmacists had no desire to do anything directly "to" a patient. School was full of very smart chemists, physiologists, engineers, and others who took the most pride in the technical aspect of medicinal chemistry, antibiotic mechanism of action and combating resistance, or drug discovery. It was *NOT* full of touchy-feely types who wanted to sit in an assembly line of "stick needle here, repeat" flu shot "cliniics".

Meanwhile, Pharmacists were lobbying for some type of limited prescribing ability. While they were almost certainly met with a "no, never thanks for asking", newer types of "professional extenders" were busy actually gaining prescribing rights - mainly Physicians Assistants and Nurse Practitioners. Even OD's (Optometrists)gained limited prescribing rights. Back at the pharmacy, many pharmacists got a new ancillary job (which nobody wanted): policing the sales of pseudoephedrine.

So, basically I'm predicting that if there is some sort of new way to use pharmacists to actually give patients broader and less expensive access to healthcare, it will be very quickly gobbled up with regulation and some type of "lick and stick" automation that will allow the retail giants of the world to make a buck out of it, regardless of how the actual pharmacists feel about such opportunity.

Of course, there are many different positions for Pharmacists outside of outpatient, retail pharmacy. There are interesting careers in teaching, inpatient, and nuclear pharmacy. There are very interesting clinical positions with the VA (the one place that I know that Pharmacists actually DO get some prescribing authority within the US government). There are opportunities to add another degree (typically PhD) and do research. But, the fact that Walgreens will offer a recent grad 125k fresh out of school with no additional degree or internship means that most pharmacists do end up in retail.

TL:DR The big chain stores will find a way to work this into their profit model for nobody's benefit but the bottom line.

I say make them harder to get. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930095)

For some drugs, allergies (some of which have gone OTC) and mild-asthma treatments but no way in hell should patients or pharmacists be allowed to give out Blood Pressure, Cholesteral or Diabeties medication without the supervision of a doctor. These medications, most of which should be used in the short-term to treat a symptom while the patient works with the doctor on lifestyle modifications to correct the underlying problem. Also, these drugs are not side-effect free. Lipitor requires regular bloodwork to make sure it isn't destroying your liver, no doctor should continue to perscribe it without getting regular blood work from the patient... I doubt that actually happens though.

If we made the drugs a bit harder to get, say harder than eating a bit better and a bit of excercise, maybe we wouldn't be spending $190,000,000,000 a year on obesity related issues.

Just saying.

FDA = unconstitutional anyway (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930097)

You don't need prescriptions because the federal government has no legitimate authority over what you put in your own body.

What about prescription eyewear? (2)

thegreatemu (1457577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930111)

I still cannot fathom why I have to have a prescription to order new eyeglasses or contact lenses. Yes, you should get your eyes checked out regularly, but a 2-year old prescription is still way better than no glasses at all!

Re:What about prescription eyewear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930157)

Because we need everything to be a crime otherwise we'll never have enough criminals to feed the prison industry.

Re:What about prescription eyewear? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930403)

you dont.

Got all the info? go online to zenni optical and buy your own.

The problem is most people dont have all the tools to figure out their info to order the lenses.

Surely (1)

WillgasM (1646719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930133)

Surely they aren't really going to let people start new drugs without talking to a physician. It makes *some* sense if you're talking about continuing a prescription without constantly consulting your doctor, but even that's doubtful in most cases. I can understand inhalers for someone with asthma. That's something you don't use unless you really need it. Stuff like statins are pretty closely monitored though. You're constantly having bloodwork done to make sure your muscles aren't deteriorating. And surely we don't need to hand out antibiotics any faster than we already are. I know plenty of people that go to the doctor every time they have a scratchy throat to bitch and moan until they get azithromycin. Let's not make it any easier for those assholes to doom our species.

Re:Surely (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930379)

" I know plenty of people that go to the doctor every time they have a scratchy throat to bitch and moan until they get azithromycin."

and the doc is not giving it to them. he is giving them a remarked placebo. Most doctors are doing this to whiny patients.

There is a pill that looks just like it and is even labelled the same except the pharmacist bulk bottle has a PL on it and is stored by all the other placebos.

Good. Avoid the "doctor must provide" scam. (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930193)

Seriously. If I want an extra strong foot cream, I have to take the time off work, go the physician, pay the physician, and then pay for the foot cream. Tell me again how this isn't a racket?

How about access to others as well? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930301)

I do know that having antibiotics in a field emergency kit is important. IF you are 3 days from civilization and impale yourself on something you really need to start taking an antibiotic to avoid infection. This would go a log way to making it easier to build a full civilian first aid field kit than having to do it "illegally" by scavenging unused pills for the kit.

I know that the majority of civilians are too stupid to self medicate with things like that, but anyone with advanced field first aid training would welcome the aded tools to keep people alive and in better shape for when you get them to a hospital.

Lipitor (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39930337)

I recall one wag claiming Lipitor should be given away with every fast food meal. Sad to see it is still being held hostage by the ultimate drug dealer: Big Pharma.

Could this possibly mean... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39930373)

...I wouldn't have to pay a $138 office visit for $10 worth of blood pressure medication?

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