Chicago doctors prescribe drugs to patients after evaluating the need for the medication. Physicians know a patient’s health history and can explain to patients any adverse reactions a new drug might have. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would like to relax some restrictions on certain prescription drugs in order to give consumers easier access to emergency medications and refills.
The drugs would be dispensed with the permission of a pharmacist without first requiring a patient to set aside time and expenses to visit a doctor for a prescription. Although this option might initially appeal to many patients in Illinois, physicians who oppose the FDA’s proposal argue that patient-doctor visits are mandatory to maintain a high level of quality health care and to avoid serious or fatalmedication errors.
The proposal for the new class of over-the-counter drugs has been open for public comment since earlier this year. At a recent American Medical Association meeting, doctors were debating whether this third class of drugs would harm or help their patients.
Government officials have tried to calm physicians’ concerns. The FDA says the measure is designed to give patients “conditional access.” Conditions might include routine diagnostic tests that pharmacists could provide.
Some AMA doctors vehemently oppose giving pharmacists the power to prescribe drugs. A Mayo Clinic medical professor acknowledged that pharmacists’ roles in the health care process are certainly valuable. But the educator said pharmacists do not have the training, experience or qualifications that physicians have to prescribe medications for patients.
Government officials countered that current prescription drugs considered for the new program would have to undergo individual reviews. The FDA would like patients who need emergency refills, like inhalers for asthma patients, to have alternatives to hospital emergency rooms visits.
If pharmacists are given more power to disburse certain medications that only doctors are currently able to prescribe, the FDA may want to consider how it will make sure that pharmacists have the proper training to do so in order to avoid increasing patients’ risks of getting the wrong medications or taking medications that could be harmful to their health.
Source: Fox News, “FDA proposal gives pharmacists too much power, doctors argue,” Rachel Rettner, June 19, 2012