1. The drugs are safe and effective without the supervision of a licensed practitioner.
2. The drugs have a low potential for misuse and abuse.
3. The drugs treat a common, benign, and self-diagnosable condition.
4. The labeling instructions can be understood by the average person (53).
As a result of this switch, a number of antifungal medications are now available without a prescription, including clotrimazole, miconazole nitrate, and butoconazole nitrate.
The primary advantages of the OTC status to the consumer are patient autonomy, convenience, more rapid relief of symptoms, and cost savings by reducing the number of physician visits and reduction in the costs of the drug. The potential disadvantages are misdiagnosis, with resulting overuse of the anti-fungal drugs and the potential for developing drug resistance, and possible delays in the diagnosis and treatment of the actual underlying medical condition causing the symptoms (54). If the underlying condition is serious, such as an STD, the patient runs the risks of increased morbidity and/or inadvertently transmitting the disease to a partner. The debate around the wisdom of the switch to the OTC status for antifungals remains very active in the medical literature.
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