FDA drug proposal risks patient health
Published: Sunday, May 13, 2012
Updated: Monday, May 14, 2012 09:05
The new prescription drug proposal put forth by the Food and Drug Administration seems to be deserving of praise when first examined. It would make it easier for patients to get medicines for common chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and asthma by allowing the drugs that treat these conditions to be sold without a prescription. Patients would have to diagnose themselves online or with a pharmacist before receiving the drug. This cuts out the expensive physician middleman and a whole host of other hassles for patients. With the number of uninsured Americans at a staggering 50.7 million as reported by USA Today, the FDA certainly has the right idea, but is it the most responsible one?
Chronic, serious ailments and conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol simply cannot initially be diagnosed at home. Conversations about prescriptions and over-the-counter medications need to be promoted, but a hybrid method would be more efficient. A system that would require patients to initially be diagnosed by a doctor and given a prescription should be set in place, and from there patients should have an easier time obtaining refills and the prescription could follow them from different providers if they decide to switch doctors or pharmacies.
As expected, the American Medical Association is against the idea. The association feels this will open the floodgates for abuse of these medications, and rightly so. According to The Chicago Tribune, an estimated 7 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, with Florida being seen as the crux of this epidemic. Adding more drugs to this list that are accessible without a prescription certainly does not help the situation. Doctors and healthcare providers need to seriously reevaluate the knee-jerk reaction they have when a patient comes in with these conditions. Natural supplement alternatives should be reviewed with patients so the benefits are known and can work hand in hand with prescriptions, potentially avoiding dependency on prescriptions and helping to promote more positive lifestyle choices.
Critics of natural and herbal supplements say there isn’t enough research or information on the effectiveness of them because the FDA does not approve them. In reality, it is common for the FDA to recall prescription drugs, not to mention the fact that the association promotes prescription drugs that can not only cause dependency, but often times can cause recurring patients to develop immunity to these prescriptions and medications, another common problem.
Ideally, patients should not have to jump through the hoops of hospital networks and insurance stipulations to be treated for common ailments like the cold and flu, common women’s issues like urinary tract infections and yeast infections, as well as allergies. These are more common, recurring issues that many Americans suffer from and as many know, it can be a substantial annoyance to try and fit in a doctor appointment with a busy schedule, or find alternative methods of treatment if one is uninsured. Many treatments for these ailments are offered over the counter, but often times patients are still forced to see a doctor when these mild treatments are ineffective. Natural supplements can also curb these issues.
The push for this plan by the FDA seemingly only has one goal: to save money. While it has been acknowledged by analysts that costs will be lowered by this initiative, many insurance carriers do not cover over-the-counter medicine, which leaves consumers struggling to pay for them in a stalemate as well.