FDA Weighs Over-The-Counter Switch For Key Drugs
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
text size A A A WASHINGTON March 7, 2012, 08:34 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AP) — Some of the most widely used prescription drugs, including those to treat cholesterol and high blood pressure, could be available over the counter under a new proposal being weighed by government regulators.
Food and Drug Administration officials said Wednesday they are considering waiving prescription requirements for certain drugs used to treat ailments like diabetes, asthma and migraine. Driving the move is a wave of computer technology, including touch-screen kiosks found in pharmacies, designed to help patients self-diagnose common diseases.
FDA regulators told reporters that easing access to obtain certain medications could help address undertreated epidemics like diabetes. Of the more than 25 million Americans with diabetes, an estimated 7 million are not diagnosed and therefore do not receive treatment. Diabetes is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.
"These are discussions that need to start happening as we think about people's health needs and how to improve access," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.