In a story written up by the Associated Press and published on Opposing Views, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) will soon consider whether or not to classify some pharmaceutical drugs as over-the-counter medications.
In other words, the drugs will no longer require a doctor visit and a prescription. As Opposing Views points out, the FDA’s “top priority” has been drug safety, but some diabetes drugs (like Actos) have proven unsafe for use in many patients.
The FDA will probably not classify Actos as an over-the-counter medication. As the FDA itself has stated, a patient who has taken Actos in high-enough doses or for a long period of time can find him- or herself at a 40 percent greater risk of bladder cancer.
Thus, it seems likely that Actos use by patients will continue to be vetted and monitored by doctor visits and a prescription. However, the intended purpose of the reclassification of some pharmaceutical drugs, as the Associated Press reports, is to speed up the approval process (which drug companies complain takes too long) and bring new drugs to market.
But the side effects of new drugs are often not known right away, as in the case of Actos, which had been approved. If the right safeguards aren’t in place, speeding up the approval process and reclassifying some medications might prove to harm more patients than it helps.