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View Full Version : Can a pharmacy in the USA legally sell non-scheduled drugs OTC?


grude
05-24-2014, 01:43 AM
The DEA has schedules for controlled substances like narcotics(from 2 to 5) and it is of course illegal to sell or possess these substances without a prescription.

But then there are also non-scheduled drugs that are also only sold by prescription, usually stuff of no interest to recreational drug users like beta blockers etc.
I understand that the FDA has not approved these for OTC sale or marketing, but what would actually happen if a pharmacy sold them without a prescription?

As far as I can tell they are not illegal to sell or possess without a prescription, but I'm guessing it probably violates well something or the other.

What law would the pharmacy be breaking?

Fishtar
05-24-2014, 01:54 AM
Illegal to sell by federal law (even if not scheduled), and if done in a pharmacy the pharmacist would get their license yanked by the state too. Land of the free, where you can buy an AR-15 but not prednisone tablet for your poison oak.

grude
05-24-2014, 01:55 AM
Illegal to sell by federal law, and if done in a pharmacy the pharmacist would get their license yanked by the state too. Land of the free, where you can buy an AR-15 but not prednisone tablet for your poison oak.

Yea I assumed the pharmacist or pharmacy could get in trouble with licensing agencies, but what federal law would be broken with non-scheduled substances?

Senegoid
05-24-2014, 02:08 AM
Well, I don't know specifically what Federal law may be in play here, but . . .

Every prescription medication I get, and also many medical devices as well, come with this statement on the label:
Caution: Federal law prohibits transfer of this drug to any person other than the patient for whom prescribed.

(Red color in original.)

This can get silly. I once obtained, just for asking, a large plastic measuring cup (of the sort I think you're supposed to pee in). The purpose was because I was driving a friend home who wasn't feeling well, so I asked if we could get a barf bag and that's what they gave me.

Even this innocuous-looking plastic item was so labeled.

Senegoid
05-24-2014, 02:15 AM
This raises a question for me, by the way.

What if I'm sick in bed, too sick to drag myself down the road to the pharmacy to pick up the very pills that are supposed to cure me. How do I acquire possession of the same?

Suppose further that I have no family, roommates, friends, twelfth-cousins-five-times-removed, or whatever. Okay, suppose I have a neighbor. Can I send neighbor to pick up my meds on my behalf? If so, how would that work? (My HMO, which runs its own pharmacies, won't let you within 30 miles of their facilities without a membership card and photo ID.)

grude
05-24-2014, 02:17 AM
Well, I don't know specifically what Federal law may be in play here, but . . .

Every prescription medication I get, and also many medical devices as well, come with this statement on the label:


(Red color in original.)

This can get silly. I once obtained, just for asking, a large plastic measuring cup (of the sort I think you're supposed to pee in). The purpose was because I was driving a friend home who wasn't feeling well, so I asked if we could get a barf bag and that's what they gave me.

Even this innocuous-looking plastic item was so labeled.

Huh, I wonder if you could have gotten arrested for possessing the pee cup. I've never heard of someone being charged for possessing a medical device without a RX heh.

I was under the impression is a substance is not scheduled state or federally you could not be arrested for possession.

Senegoid
05-24-2014, 02:23 AM
I was under the impression is a substance is not scheduled state or federally you could not be arrested for possession.

And I'm under the impression that somebody, to-wit myself, finds this very confusing and seemingly non-sensical. There are all these "scheduled" drugs, also called "controlled substances", that have all kinds of onerous restrictions on how you can get them, most importantly that you can't just waltz down to your local Drugs-Я-Us and get them for the asking.

But wait, that's true for ALL drugs that are available by Яx only, isn't it? Drugs like most blood-pressure meds, or most antibiotics, and hundreds of others, aren't "scheduled" or "controlled substances", but you still can't just waltz down to your local Drugs-Я-Us and get them for the asking.

So what's the real distinction here? Can one or our resident SDMB pharmacists give us the Straight Dope on this? Me am perplexed.

BTW: Yes, medical devices really are available by prescription only, but I expect that's intended to apply for more elaborate devices than pee cups -- things like nebulizers or CPAP mochines, or even needles for diabetics, for example. But you CAN just waltz down and buy your self a bathroom scale or a blood-pressure monitor.

Fishtar
05-24-2014, 02:25 AM
Possession is fine. Going to Mexico and buying non scheduled prescription drugs is fine (though subject to confiscation) (for now, big pharm trying to change this). Just cannot sell them. Federal code 21 U.S.C. 841(a) (I think).

Fishtar
05-24-2014, 02:29 AM
Also worth noting is the FDA has the power to regulate drugs for all humans, other mammals, birds, and reptiles. But not Fish......so if ever in a jam and need antibiotics badly....go to the pet store.

Hirka T'Bawa
05-24-2014, 02:41 AM
When it comes to drugs, there are two agencies involved, the FDA and the DEA. The DEA is in charge of scheduling a drug, if it is abusable it will schedule it as a controlled substance. The FDA is in charge classifying a substance, even as a "legend" drug which requires a prescription, a non-legend drug(or OTC) which doesn't, or as a food supplement (i.e vitamins, or other products with the "is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease" warning)

It is legal to sell non-legend drugs without a prescription (tylenol, motrin, benadryl, and everything else you think of as OTC), also legal to sell scheduled drugs without a prescription, depending on state law (codeine containing cough medications, and psudoephedrine in some states), but is illegal to sell legend drugs without a prescription (beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, Statins, nitroglycerin, epinephrine, vaccines, SSRIs, etc)




Well, I don't know specifically what Federal law may be in play here, but . . .

Every prescription medication I get, and also many medical devices as well, come with this statement on the label:

Originally Posted by The LAW
Caution: Federal law prohibits transfer of this drug to any person other than the patient for whom prescribed.

(Red color in original.)

This can get silly. I once obtained, just for asking, a large plastic measuring cup (of the sort I think you're supposed to pee in). The purpose was because I was driving a friend home who wasn't feeling well, so I asked if we could get a barf bag and that's what they gave me.

Even this innocuous-looking plastic item was so labeled.

That federal transfer warning is actually only legally required on controlled substances, however, most pharmacies put it as part of their basic label. So while the warning is legally required and binding on label of the Hydrocodone I dispensed, it is present, but not required, on the Lisinopril I dispensed with it.

ETA: What Fishtar said:
Possession is fine. Going to Mexico and buying non scheduled prescription drugs is fine (though subject to confiscation) (for now, big pharm trying to change this). Just cannot sell them.
You can have a legend drug, you just can't sell it without a prescription... For example, look at the law suits with the manufactures of Red Yeast Rice the requires the removal of the active, the legend drug, Lovastatin.

Fishtar
05-24-2014, 03:21 AM
A pharmacist...fantastic. The legal code I gave above is incorrect. It is for controlled substances. I think the real law in question is the Food,Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Section 503(c). Up to a year in jail for selling "legend"(?) drugs without a Doctorate in Pharmacy AND permission from some doctor. Three years for subsequent violations. And I am sure most of the states have their own laws as well.

bob++
05-24-2014, 03:44 AM
Surely, the point is to a) stop people buying recreational drugs over the counter, and b) to control the excessive use of non-recreational but dangerous (or potentially dangerous) drugs.

We have a similar situation here and there is considerable pressure on GPs these days to prescribe generic rather than (more expensive) branded drugs, and to stop prescribing antibiotics for example, where overuse is causing problems.

On the point about Billy-no-mates lying in his bed needing medication. Over here he could go online to his GP's website and order the prescription (assuming it's a repeat); the surgery staff would send the scrip to the pharmacy of his choice, and they would deliver it. It does take time though, and Billy would have to plan at least three days ahead. If he was in real trouble, his GP (or more likely a locum service) would send a doctor round. If he was in serious trouble, he would dial 999 and get an ambulance with a paramedic on board.

The most he would have to pay, if he wasn't exempt, would be 8.05 per item.

grude
05-24-2014, 04:38 AM
It is legal to sell non-legend drugs without a prescription (tylenol, motrin, benadryl, and everything else you think of as OTC), also legal to sell scheduled drugs without a prescription, depending on state law (codeine containing cough medications, and psudoephedrine in some states), but is illegal to sell legend drugs without a prescription (beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, Statins, nitroglycerin, epinephrine, vaccines, SSRIs, etc)

----------------------------

You can have a legend drug, you just can't sell it without a prescription... For example, look at the law suits with the manufactures of Red Yeast Rice the requires the removal of the active, the legend drug, Lovastatin.

Thank you, this makes sense.

Fishtar
05-24-2014, 04:47 AM
You have the nationalized medicine. No doctors dropping by here. Or pharmacies that deliver (Though a relative can go pick up most drugs for you).

The big problem in America is there are not near enough doctors. Because the government puts a cap on how many can be educated each year. (The American Medical Association lobbies hard for this and no politicians seem to question it)

Getting into see one can be hard. So if one has a urinary tract infection or some such, often they end up Emergency Room, wait 6 hours for a doctor to look at them for 30 seconds. And then finally get permission to go buy the drug. Along with a nice $800 bill if there is no insurance.

In Latin America, the drugs are not regulated. And they have 10x the number of doctors. You can just walk in, tell the pharmacist what is wrong, and he will give you the proper drugs and charge you $5. Or tell you to go down to the clinic because you are about to die.

Sorry for the tirade. Work is slow tonight. I guess my point is the American government either needs to regulate medicine properly (like the UK), or deregulate it (like Costa Rica)

bob++
05-24-2014, 06:19 AM
I am surprised that pharmacies in the USA don't deliver. Most here do, and it is a free service. Most of them have a small van, and employ a part-timer on minimum wage, so it is not that expensive. My impression is that many drivers see it almost as voluntary work - visiting old people who may not get too many visitors, and providing a useful service.

doreen
05-24-2014, 07:45 AM
I am surprised that pharmacies in the USA don't deliver. Most here do, and it is a free service. Most of them have a small van, and employ a part-timer on minimum wage, so it is not that expensive. My impression is that many drivers see it almost as voluntary work - visiting old people who may not get too many visitors, and providing a useful service. There are pharmacies is the US that deliver- but I suspect most people use big chain pharmacies that don't . The pharmacies in my area that deliver are the independent ones.

slash2k
05-24-2014, 12:23 PM
There are pharmacies is the US that deliver- but I suspect most people use big chain pharmacies that don't . The pharmacies in my area that deliver are the independent ones.

Some of the big grocery-store pharmacies do deliveries. Kroger/Dillons and Giant Eagle both do, at least in some markets.

(I think it's mostly cases where the store already has a delivery vehicle, e.g. for the florist or deli, so delivering another product line is no big deal.)

dougrb
05-24-2014, 04:59 PM
Can I send neighbor to pick up my meds on my behalf? If so, how would that work? (My HMO, which runs its own pharmacies, won't let you within 30 miles of their facilities without a membership card and photo ID.)

I have never shown an ID to pick up a prescription and have picked up another persons prescription for them (this is in Kansas).

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