Rx-to-OTC Switch: 7 Prescription Medications You Can Now Find OTC
If you experience frequent heartburns, you can pick medications like omeprazole (Prilosec OTC) from any local pharmacy aisle that can help you with relief. However, it wasn’t easy if you thought about it in 2002. Earlier, omeprazole was available only at medical stores.
Medications like omeprazole and other prescription medications are transitioning and sold as over-the-counter (OTC). The term is known as the Rx-to-OTC switch. When this happens, it offers quite convenient options for you to self-treat several ailments, including yeast infections and itchy eyes.
Here in this blog, we will discuss how Rx-to-OTC switches work.
What is the meaning of an Rx-to-OTC switch?
The Rx-to-OTC switch process involves rigorous approval and review by the FDA. As a result, the process may look slightly different and depends on whether it is a partial or full switch. The full switch means the OTC and prescription products have the same approved uses. But uses could be a partial switch.
Through the process, the FDA determines if the medications will be effective and safe for OTC use. In other words, consumers can understand how to use it for treating the symptoms without a healthcare provider. It includes clear, simple, and easy-to-understand labeling. In addition, you may require prescription products for specific use in a few cases.
Here we will discuss a few examples of medications that have had Rx-to-OTC switch.
Nasonex is one of the steroid nasal sprays. It works by reducing swelling and inflammation in your nose. Recently, the medication had switched from Rx to OTC. The steroid nasal sprays Nasacort (triamcinolone) and Flonase (fluticasone) made a switch a few years back.
The OTC version is known as Nasonex 24 HR Allergy. You can temporarily relieve nasal allergy symptoms in children and adults ages 2 and older.
Lastacaft (alcaftadine) eye drops are useful for relief during itchy eyes caused by allergies. It is an antihistamine approved for use in people ages 2 and older. Blocking the release of histamine is essential to control allergy symptoms.
Astepro (azelastine) is one of the antihistamine nasal spray. The Rx-to-OTC switch went into effect back in 2021. It became the first non-steroid OTC nasal spray for allergies.
Astepro prescription products can treat seasonal allergy symptoms in people ages 5 and older. It may also treat symptoms like runny nose and nasal congestion unrelated to allergies in people ages 12 and older.
Voltaren Gel (diclofenac) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. It is a topical gel you can apply to relieve arthritis pain caused by inflammation. You can use it on upper body areas (elbows, wrists, hands) or lower body areas (knee, ankle, foot).
Pataday (olopatadine) is a mast cell stabilizer and antihistamine eye drop that you can use to relieve itchy eyes from allergies. Before you switch, olopatadine eye drops were available as three different prescription products: Patanol (twice daily), Pataday (once daily), and Pazeo (extra-strength).
Plan B (levonorgestrel) is one of the emergency contraception forms of medication. This prescription product includes two tablets you can take 12 hours apart. But the sooner you take Plan B, the more effective it gets. As a result, plan B is a prime candidate for an Rx-to-OTC switch to improve faster access to medicines.
Xyzal (levocetirizine) is one of the oral antihistamine. Levocetirizine is one of the active components of another OTC antihistamine known as Zyrtec (cetirizine).
The prescription version of Xyzal helps treat chronic hives and allergy symptoms in people ages 6 and older. OTC liquids and tablets were approved in 2017 to alleviate only allergy symptoms.
Rx-to-OTC switches offer convenient access to medicines. They allow you to self-treat heartburn symptoms, allergies, and more without seeing a healthcare provider.
But only some OTC products are the same as the prescription versions. In a few cases, prescription medicine is essential to treat a more serious medical condition. However, many OTC products are for short-term use.