Buying over-the-counter medication could mean some sufferers have to pay more for their med's then they use to.
Insurance companies decide what meds they'll pay for and usually once a prescription drug goes over the counter insurance carriers will drop it. For instance Claritan, now that it's sold over the counter most insurance companies don't cover it. Consumers pay roughly $30 dollars for a months supply for the drug instead of the $15 to $20 dollar co-payments people with health insurance used to pay. Now that Zyrtec, another allergy medicine, is for sale in stores, pharmacist say it probably won't be covered by insurance companies costing consumers about $25 dollars. Brent Dance a local pharmacist says going over the counter doesn't always mean you'll pay more.
"In the grand scheme of things the costs are drastically reduced because you have to factor in a doctors visit, a doctors office co-pay, a lab fee. There's also a factors that a lot of people don't have prescription insurance so for them the cost would dramatically go down."
Dance also says many Amarillo residents don't have prescription drug insurance so it benefits them to find relief over the counter. In fact about 42 million Americans are uninsured pushing the need for more prescription drugs to be sold over the counter.
Doctors warn over-the-counter drugs can be dangerous to your health. That's because misuse can cause serious side effects and lead to hospitalization or even death. Some of those side effects are liver damage, gastro-intestinal bleeding and kidney poisoning just to name a few.
"Just because the medication is over the counter does not necessarily mean that it can't be harmful. Any drug misused can be harmful. Patients do have to follow the dosing guidelines still with over the counter medications."
Dance says another concern is drug interaction when people mixing multiple kinds of drugs. Especially those with heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
"Just check with us to see if they are making the right selection and that they are not getting into anything that's gonna cause an unwanted side effect or interact with medications they are currently taking."
Many Amarillo residents I spoke with say they are guilty of abusing the meds because they don't always work the way they want them to by following the guidelines. Others say they do.
"Myself personally I got to be conscious of how much you can take and not abuse that, but I can't speak for everybody." said Derek Thomas.
Dance adds, "I still wouldn't recommend buying over-the-counter medication without at least talking with the pharmacist about what your getting just to make sure."
He also says if a prescription strength drug is over-the-counter that usually means it's safe and effective. That's as long as you strictly follow the directions. He recommends if you do experience severe side effects immediately stop taking the drug and contact your doctor or pharmacist.