AirTalk for March 20, 2012

FDA considers allowing patients to self-diagnose illnesses

Oxycodone pills.

Be.Futureproof/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

What medicines could be made available over the counter if this change in FDA policy passes?

Later this week, the Food and Drug Administration will hold a hearing on whether or not to allow patients to use self-diagnostic kiosks in pharmacies or even certain apps to diagnose diseases like asthma, diabetes and migraines.

Some of the most widely used prescription medication for those illness would then be made available over the counter. This over-the-counter switch is just one of many changes the FDA is looking to make aimed at increasing access to common drugs and speeding up the approval process for new medications. The change comes after drug companies and certain members of Congress put pressure on the FDA saying the process of accessing and approving drugs has become more burdensome than in other parts of the world.

Not all drugs will be prescription free however, certain medications must still be prescribed at first by a doctor but the new Kiosks will go a long way to screening potential users and ease the pressure of doctor’s visits. FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said in a statement about the new protocol; “The world is changing and we have to change with it.”

Will the new self-diagnose kiosks have a positive effect on getting prescription medications? Are you concerned with the loosening of safety regulations on popular drug manufacturers? Should the FDA embrace new technologies like other industries?

Guests:

Dr. Bill Soller, Executive Director, Center for Consumer Self Care; Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania


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