No Doctor Required

The FDA may expand the number of prescription drugs it converts to over-the-counter use

Americans tend to think of themselves as their own best doctor--now more than ever, as evidenced by the way we are scarfing down unregulated nutritional supplements to deter the Grim Reaper from a premature visit. Prompted in part by this growing self-care movement and in part by drug companies, the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the process it uses to decide when a prescription medicine is ready to be sold freely on store shelves.

The debate begins in earnest this week, when the FDA conducts hearings on requests by Merck & Co., maker of Mevacor, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.,...

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