More and more, I feel like I am spending a TON of time filling prescriptions for over-the-counter medications. (For the non-pharmacist reader, many of these are covered under medical assistance plans -- and as such, need to be processed just like a prescription medication, with all the same procedures, record-keeping, etc.) Now, this is not going to be a swipe against the "moochers" -- and believe me, I struggle with this, because I believe that the majority of people on assistance do NOT abuse it. But even fellow pharmacists who've been doing this a long time are beginning to wonder how long we can keep it up. Additionally, many of our customers on state assistance are immigrants (some might even say refugees) from other countries. Now, if a child enters this country and immediately comes down with leukemia, I'd like to think we're not going to stand there and let him die. We are better than that. But how obligated are we are to cover prescriptions for (and to stock people's medicine cabinets with) things like Tylenol? And hydrocortisone cream, and every form of vitamin, Miralax, Compound W, Colace, saline nasal spray, simethicone, Sudafed, Claritin, Eucerin, ibuprofen, calcium, iron, aspirin, Benadryl, Maalox, Milk of Magnesia, Lotrimin cream, Robitussin, artificial tears, and many MANY others -- all things that most of us purchase on our own.
Inexpensive products..... BIG EXPENSIVE HEALTH CARE machinery behind them. I think about it now every time I wade through those quality-assurance double checks of my saline nasal spray prescriptions.
We routinely have people bring us prescriptions for OTC's from a hospital emergency room. We all know the cost of an emergency room visit, and this is utter INSANITY. There needs to be a way for people to get advice on minor health issues, (ask your pharmacist, maybe?) and then be given a recommendation on what to go out and BUY for it. To be sure, there are lots of very expensive drugs and medical procedures out there that the average person cannot afford on their own. Tums is not one of them.