FDA OKs arthritis gel, allergy eyedrops for over-the-counter sales

Tips to reduce the price of prescription drugs

Medical news correspondent and emergency and family medicine doctor Dr. Janette Nesheiwat gives tips on how to save money on prescriptions and explains why prices are skyrocketing.

Three prescription drugs have been approved to move to over-the-counter status, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday.

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The first drug, GlaxoSmithKline’s Voltaren Arthritis Pain, is a topical gel that provides relief from arthritis pain, particularly on the joints of hands, knees and feet, according to the FDA. It was first approved as a prescription drug in 2007.

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The others are Alcon’s Pataday once- and twice-daily, an eyedrop solution that provides relief for itchy and red eyes caused by pollen, ragweed, grass, animal hair or dander. The prescription drug was first approved in 1996 under the name Patanol. It prevents the release of histamine to control allergies.

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The over-the-counter drugs will no longer be available as prescription drugs, according to the FDA.

Many products sold over-the-counter today were available only by prescription 30 years ago, according to Karen Mahoney, acting deputy director of the FDA’s Office of Nonprescription Drugs. But the same approval process has made them more widely available.

“Approval of a wider range of nonprescription drugs has the potential to improve public health by increasing the types of drugs consumers can access and use that would otherwise only be available by prescription,” Mahoney said in a press release. “This includes providing the millions of people that suffer with joint pain from arthritis daily over-the-counter access to another non-opioid treatment option.”

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