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Diffusing the Confusion of Choosing OTCs

October 31, 2018
Posted by: Gerald “Pharmacist Jerry” Finken, RPh, MS; Contributor, Martha Morton

Diffusing the Confusion of Choosing OTCsPhoto credit: Consumer Navigation Products Association

Have you ever found it difficult to choose the best Over the Counter (OTC) medication at a grocery store? Let’s say you have a common cold AND you need eggs. You rush into the grocery store, hoping to get your eggs AND find something for relief of your symptoms.

With eggs in hand, and getting warmer by the moment, you go to medicine aisle. There are so many choices that seem to do the same thing. Which one is best for you?

Thanks to a new FDA initiative, your days of distress and confusion MAY be over. Good news, right? Let’s consider.

On July 17, the FDA released a draft guidance, called “Innovative Approaches for Nonprescription Drug Products” introducing new initiatives that, if put into practice, could remodel the non-prescription drug market as we know it.

The guidance outlines two ideas for maximizing the safety and effectiveness of medication use by suggesting the patient could fully educate themselves on the drug to choose.

The first of the two ideas is to provide patients with resources in addition to the drug facts normally provided in the product label. The resources could include, but are not limited to: leaflets, interactive learning videos in the store, easily accessible website drug information, informative mobile apps, as well as additional documents to best educate the patient on whichever drug product they are thinking to purchase.

When these resources prove to be insufficient, the second idea comes into play: to have patients answer a self-assessment questionnaire on a mobile app or in-store. Based on a health algorithm, the outcomes would determine what the most appropriate therapy is for the patient as well as explain why other medications may be better or worse for them.

For legal reasons, and prior to purchase of a chosen drug product, the patient would view and affirm that they were informed about their drug product and hopefully, in actuality, be aware of the correct use.

Assuming patients would be willing to self-educate, I think both of these ideas have merit.

These concepts would not only help to promote maximum safety and efficacy, but also empower the patient to make educated decisions based on newly learned information.

In the case of the mobile app questionnaire, the most appropriate therapy would be chosen every time, assuming that the patient also owned their own healthcare record.

In the long run, implementing these innovations into practice would save a lot of time, resources, and money.

All things considered, though, implementation of these initiatives is still in the future. So, what do we do in the meantime?

Back to the grocery store. The next time you are going for eggs and cold medication, go ‘old school’ and consult your friendly pharmacist – the medication expert. It’s cost effective and efficient. Even call ahead.

Your pharmacist will remember or have access to your history and will be able to recommend the best choice for you as well as provide real time medication counseling through their interaction with you. With the pharmacist: medication education is personal.

And personal attention means that you would be more adequately informed of the dangers of taking certain medications as well as the correct administration.

Personal attention is what we should all expect and demand – whether from a living breathing medication expert – a.k.a. our pharmacist – or whatever technology the future brings.

Assistance is not only a job, it’s also a duty.

What do you think?

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