SWITCHING DRUGS from prescription to over-the-counter (OTC) status is proceeding at an ever-increasing pace. In the 10years from 1984 to 1994,9drugs were switched from prescription to OTC status—an average of about 1 a year. But in 1995 alone, 7 agents were moved to OTC status, and last year, 13 drugs were switched to OTC. Two more have been added so far in 1997 (see box).
"This is a trend and it's going to continue," said Randy Juhl, PhD, speaking at a briefing for health professionals held by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Juhl is dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and a former chair of the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee.
Juhl noted that only in December 1992 did the OTC advisory committee hold its first meeting. David Kessler, MD, former FDA commissioner, put the group together in response to pressure to place more drugs in