In an attempt to cease and desist several (hopefully) temporary ailments, have to do some battles with some OTC meds this weekend. In my current place of residence the choice is slim and not entirely inspiring…nor effective. Not to mention that their availability is placed almost solely in “parapharmacies” that resemble anything but a pharmacy, especially in their choice of meds.
On the contrary, I remember taking a spin through a pharmacy in a recent visit to the States. If any country has perfected the art of the Over The Counter Medicine, it is the United States. I was actually quite shocked to see Prilosec OTC front and centre (I was, perhaps naively, even more shocked to see that their website offered a free sample…thank you, Proctor and Gamble).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t fully appreciate the ease of availability of this and these types of medicines – I am pining for such this weekend, actually. But something like Prilosec (omeprazole for the generically tied) screams for pharmacists intervention for reasons which will all know yet I feel compelled to relist here – chronic treatment of symptoms for a potentially harmful underlying cause could lead to even more damage and serious conditions.
What scared me even more however was that I was browsing through the US FDA website for their guidelines on Regulation of Nonprescription Products to find these points explicitly listed:
OTC drugs generally have these characteristics:
- their benefits outweigh their risks
- the potential for misuse and abuse is low
- consumer can use them for self-diagnosed conditions
- they can be adequately labeled
- health practitioners are not needed for the safe and effective use of the products
Now from what I hear about the FDA combined of what I hear about the American populace’s tendency to lawsuits I am almost certain that a very large team of very smart experts came up with these guidelines. But I’m not sure I agree, to be honest. Sure, anyone can read the box…but do we really want to encourage more self-diagnosis? And, are we really comfortable by saying a medicine like omeprazole can truly be used safely and effectively without interaction with a healthcare professional (namely, pharmacists).
I’m not. I admit I would be more likely to agree if more were a “behind the counter” (BTC?) medicine that needed to be requested. The slight increase in bother would go great lengths in prevention and in connecting patients to pharmacists – a step that seems to becoming increasingly eliminated.