If you use Allegra or Zyrtec, popular allergy medications, I bet you'll be glad to hear what the Food and Drug Administration is considering. A forced switch.
Which would make the manufacturers provide those two drugs over the counter instead of by prescription as they are sold now. The manufacturers are fighting this, but if it happens, the switch would represent a first by the FDA in making the changes without some agreement from the drug maker.
The FDA says when Claritin, another popular allergy drug, went over the counter in December the price dropped by two-thirds. So, this new proposal for Allegra and Zyrtec is part of a plan to become more proactive in recommending switches that could potentially reduce consumer health care costs.
Allegra and Zyrtec are being targeted in part due to a citizens' petition filed in 1998. In May 2001, a federal advisory panel recommended to the FDA that Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec be made available over the counter.
A spokesperson for Allegra's maker Aventis Pharmaceuticals opposes the change, citing the need for a correct diagnosis by a physician, and the fact that consumers would shoulder the total cost of the over the counter medication.
The cost of most prescription drugs are supplemented by insurance plans.