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In late 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held public hearings exploring the establishment of a new behind-the-counter (BTC) drug program. However, little is known about the views of pharmacists regarding such a program. To assess the overall perceptions of Idaho's practicing pharmacists about the creation of a formal BTC drug program, the appropriateness of including certain drug categories, specific barriers to its adoption, and the impact of the new program on access to medicines. A survey of practicing pharmacists in Idaho was conducted by mail, utilizing anonymous responses. Key questions exploring the views of pharmacists about the new BTC drug program utilized 5-point Likert scales. Data were also collected on respondent characteristics. A total of 357 practicing pharmacists in Idaho (31% response rate) returned the mail survey; 84% of pharmacists agreed that the FDA should be exploring an expanded BTC program, and 88% of pharmacists agreed that this program would improve access to some prescription-only products and convenience for patients. Almost 71% of pharmacists reported a personal willingness to both initiate and monitor certain BTC drug therapies. When focusing on specific drug categories for BTC status, the highest support was for selected agents within smoking cessation therapies (85%), nasal corticosteroids for allergies (81%), and vaccines (75%). Pharmacists who reported low barriers to the adoption of a new BTC program were significantly more likely to support this program than were those reporting high barriers. Only 39% of pharmacists agreed that adequate facilities were currently available for private evaluation and counseling of BTC patients. Pharmacists in a statewide survey of perceptions regarding a new BTC drug program overwhelmingly believe that patients would benefit. Pharmacists strongly support the development of the new program, and more than two thirds indicate that they would likely participate, given the necessary supporting institutional framework. Perceived barriers are related to willingness to participate and likely can be minimized through education and provision of private consulting areas.


Timothy L Hunt, Vaughn L Culbertson, John Erramouspe, Kerry Casperson. Perceptions of practicing pharmacists in Idaho about a potential behind-the-counter drug program. The Annals of pharmacotherapy. 2010 Sep;44(9):1403-9

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PMID: 20587744

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