Study shows Americans overwhelmingly in favor of BTC classification

CHICAGO A study by Leo J. Shapiro & Associates released Thursday found that two-thirds of Americans believe the Food and Drug Administration should create a third-class of drugs that would require no prescription and be dispensed by the pharmacist, even if insurance doesn’t cover the cost.

According to the survey, 62 percent of consumers agreed that obtaining BTC medications from a pharmacist would be more convenient than seeing a doctor. Two thirds also agreed that BTC would allow people without the benefit of health insurance to have access to medications they may need. Among households without health insurance this belief was even stronger, 82 percent of the uninsured believed a BTC category would allow them greater access to needed medications.

However, safety and oversight were still serious concerns, the survey found. A little more than half, 53 percent, agreed that pharmacists currently have the knowledge and training to dispense BTC drugs; but 17 percent disagreed and 30 percent were either neutral or uncertain. As much as 70 percent of patients surveyed agreed that the pharmacist should communicate BTC usage to their general practitioner as a matter of practice.

Also revealing in the study was the public’s lack of confidence in the FDA to keep drugs safe and adequately monitored. Only 44 percent of respondents felt the FDA could ensure BTC drug safety. And increased liability on behalf of the pharmacist, a concern of industry, was legitimized by the survey. Should a serious problem developed with a BTC drug, 38 percent of the public would hold the pharmaceutical company most liable, 26 percent the FDA and 25 percent the pharmacist who dispensed the drug.

Respondents were interviewed in person by telephone during November 2007 in this study of 450 U.S. households.

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