Why do so many drugs NEED a prescription and why can’t all (or most) be bought without a prescription?

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Why do so many drugs NEED a prescription and why can’t all (or most) be bought without a prescription?

In: Biology
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Government thinks that people will abuse drugs and cause harm to themselves. In general there are a lot of drugs with the potential for addiction or overdose and a lot that arent. Many of the ones that arent are available over the count in lower strengths.

Many drugs scan be abused or misused without a prescription. Opioids are a big one. People can easily become addicted and can overdose on them if they use too many.

Another issue is just proper use of the medication. Take insulin for example. Nobody is going to go and get high off of insulin, but it’s not difficult to give yourself too much or too little if you don’t know what you are doing. Improper use can have severe side-effects including coma and death. And it doesn’t take a lot to do this.

Most medicines that require a prescription either have: a specific and dedicated use, a high risk of side effects or overdose if used incorrectly, possible addiction, or other negative effects from overuse. Heavy and addictive painkillers like Vicodin would be really easy to abuse if we could just pick them up from the store without a doctor overseeing our dosage and how quickly we run through them. Plenty of drugs that are used to combat serious diseases have serious side effects, and might have worse side effects if used to treat other problems. If a non-diabetic tried to use insulin for some reason, they could induce hypoglycemia, which can cause dizziness, seizures, and worse. And of course, if antibiotics were just on the shelves of a drug store, we’d be in a terrible position with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Even with antibiotics prescribed by doctors, too many people don’t use their whole dose and end up creating antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases, which is why we need to use stronger antibiotics than ever before. If some people were just taking small doses daily “just in case!” then we’d have a serious superbug issue.

So the majority of drugs are controlled for this reason – doctors and pharmacists carefully control who has access and how much they have access to at any given time. And they guarantee that the person receiving the drug has to speak with a doctor and a pharmacist, and receive directions for how to take it, what the side effects are, and what consequences there may be for using it improperly. Some people still will, but the medical community is at least doing their best to minimize it. And in the case of dependence, there’s a record of how many pills someone has picked up and how long they’re going in between fillips – if someone is complaining of pain that’s lasting longer than expected and they’re going through lots of heavy painkillers, it might be a sign that someone needs to step in.

The only stuff that we have access to in stores, then, is the weaker or more general-use stuff: weaker painkillers, stomach remedies, that kind of stuff. It’s definitely possible to misuse or abuse some of this stuff, but the convenience of having a bottle of Tylenol handy at the store (for most of us) outweighs the risk that we’ll take too many and cause some serious issues.

Pharmacists have a good lobby and everyone (except patients) benefits from the most expensive system possible.