One day soon you may be able to go to the mall and, instead of leaving with a new pair of shoes or a DVD, pick up a bottle of various prescription drugs, all without ever seeing a physician.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently held public hearings on this very topic, and is considering the introduction of “patient kiosks” where you could fill out online questionnaires and, based on your responses to a few questions, self-diagnose a condition and get medications that currently require a prescription.
This means drugs for conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma and migraines may soon be easily available over-the-counter or, more aptly, from veritable vending machines, ready to purchase like a bag of chips or a candy bar.
Prescription Drugs from Vending Machines?
The idea is that people would be able to access the drugs via patient kiosks in malls or drug stores without having to make a visit to their doctor’s offices. Thereby saving patients (and insurance companies) time and money by reducing overall health care costs. Proponents of the idea say it would be a good way to get patients that are not currently being treated for these conditions, treated.
Since 1976, 106 ingredients or medications have been switched from prescription to over-the-counter (OTC) status, and this is a trend many Americans appear to support. A survey sponsored by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) revealed that 80 percent of U.S. consumers had used an OTC medicine in the last year and 86 percent believe OTC drugs help them lower health care costs.
Further, 89 percent said OTC medications are an “important part of their overall family health care,” while 81 percent use them as a “first response” to minor ailments.
But opponents argue that consumers might have trouble understanding the medical information the kiosks would dispense along with the drugs. Not to mention, the majority of Americans are already taking too many drugs, and easier access makes it likely that people will take even more — even though many chronic conditions, like elevated cholesterol, are best treated without drugs, and
As Activist Post details:
” … the vending machine could massively increase pharmaceutical drug use, which kills more individuals per year than traffic fatalities. Pharmaceutical painkillers in specific are responsible for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. Instead of distributing even more pharmaceuticals to consumers, perhaps the FDA should focus on solutions that do not require risky pharmaceuticals that on average contain 70 side effects.”