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Expanding the Role of Pharmacists

The FDA is scheduled to meet on

The FDA is scheduled to meet on March 22nd, 2012 to assemble public opinion regarding the transition of some prescription cholesterol, diabetes, and asthma medications to “OTC-plus” status. On March 7th, 2012, FDA officials announced they are considering waiving prescription requirements for certain maintenance medications in order to improve access and a rise in computer technology and touch-screen kiosks in pharmacies to self-diagnose.

Under this proposal, pharmacists could have a major role in this transition including assisting patients in drug selection, providing follow-up monitoring, and/or requiring pharmacist intervention in order to promote appropriate use. Some of the follow-up measures could include blood pressure checks or blood tests for cholesterol or liver function.

A notice published by the FDA in the Federal Register for the aforementioned meeting explained where technology would play a role: “For example, kiosks or other technological aid in the pharmacies or on the Internet could lead consumers through an algorithm for a particular drug product. Such an algorithm could consist of a series of questions that help consumers properly self-diagnose certain medical condition, or determine whether specific medication warnings contraindicate their use of a drug product.” This notice also stated another reason for this transition was to reduce the number of routine visits and allow physicians to focus their time on more seriously ill patients as well as increasing adherence to medications due to patients failing to get prescription refills.


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