Treating that killer migraine could become a lot easier, and a lot cheaper, if a new FDA proposal is adopted. The proposal, which is still under review, would allow patients to purchase over-the-counter drugs for common conditions that previously required a prescription—and with it, a costly trip to the doctor’s office. The Washington Times has the story:
Under the changes that the agency is considering, patients could diagnose their ailments by answering questions online or at a pharmacy kiosk in order to buy current prescription-only drugs for conditions such as high cholesterol, certain infections, migraine headaches, asthma or allergies.By removing the prescription requirement from popular drugs, the Obama administration could ease financial pressures on the overburdened Medicare system by paying for fewer doctor visits and possibly opening the door to make seniors pay a larger share of the cost of their medications.
While the pharmaceutical lobby is naturally delighted with the proposal, some doctors have expressed concern that bypassing primary care physicians is not the best way to bring down healthcare costs. The American Medical Association has also warned that costs may not decrease as much as the FDA thinks they will, because insurance companies usually do not cover over-the-counter medication. Some of the money saved by avoiding the doctor may be eaten up by increased out of pocket expenses, said the AMA.Despite these concerns Via Meadia welcomes the FDA’s announcement. Part of the future of the health care system involves turning more control over these kinds of decisions to individuals.There is no panacea for bringing down healthcare costs in America; one of the problems with Obamacare—indeed with blue model thinking in general—is the desire to turn to a single remedy in order to fix an infinitely complex system. But gradual innovations like this one will, over time, begin to bear fruit.