Prescription drugs -- without a prescription
Who needs a doctor when you have drug commercials?
It used to be that a patient would tell his doctor what was wrong, and the doctor would come up with a diagnosis and a treatment based on those symptoms, and some tests.
These days, it's the other way around: A patient sees a commercial for a drug and says, "I need that!" Then, he marches into his doctor's office and demands a prescription.
In theory, that extra step -- going to the doctor's office -- is supposed to stop people from self-medicating and taking drugs they don't need, too many drugs, or dangerous drugs without a doctor to keep an eye on things.
In reality, once a patient asks for a drug he usually gets it. Usually, but not always -- and it drives the drug industry nuts that at least some patients are being stopped by stick-in-the-mud doctors who worry about little things like health, safety, side effects, and necessity.
They want patients to be able to skip the middleman in the white jacket and get drugs on their own -- without a prescription.
And right now, that drug-industry dream is about to become a reality. Under a nightmarish new plan, supposedly from the FDA, statins, diabetes drugs, asthma meds, and more could all be available over the counter.
I say "supposedly" because I don't believe for a moment that the agency came up with this out of the clear blue sky. Behind the scenes, you can bet the drug industry has been pushing for this -- and pushing hard.
Them, and insurance companies. Since insurers don't usually cover over-the-counter meds, this could save them billions (and cause patients who really need those meds to pay more than ever).
The fact that the FDA is now actually proposing it should tell you everything you need to know about who really calls the shots in Washington.
After all, no one else is clamoring for this. I haven't heard a patient yet say he wished he had easier access to statins.
And doctors hate the idea. The American Medical Association even testified against it at an FDA hearing, and not just because docs could lose money if patients no longer need to come in for office visits to get prescriptions.
It's because they'll be the ones left picking up the pieces when patients make bad drug choices -- something that's bound to happen when they're choosing medicines based on TV commercials.