Should Pharmacists be able to Dispense Prescription Medications?
The FDA was recently brought a proposal to create and develop a third drug category in the United States which would enable pharmacists to dispense drugs for “non-prescription use” that would have previously required a prescription from a doctor.
“Some drug products that would otherwise require a prescription could be approved as non-prescription drug products with some type of pharmacist intervention as their condition of safe use” (Federal Register – http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-02-28/pdf/2012-4597.pdf)
Other proposed potential roles include “assessing whether the consumer has any conditions or other risk factors that would indicate whether a drug should not be used, or assisting the consumer in choosing between various drug products.”
This new proposal stems from concern that many people with conditions such as headaches, migraines, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol are currently under-treated and, as pharmacists are on-hand for advice more so than doctors, it would seem reasonable for pharmacists to be able to dispense medications to treat conditions such as these.
However, there has been some opposition to the proposal, “this practice could both endanger patients and harm patient’s relationships with their physicians” (The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFPP))