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If Doctor's Were No Longer Prescribers
Thanks to the anonymous pharmacist who commented here for inspiring this post. Nothing earthshaking, just maybe a new way of looking at an old problem: I feel like patients no longer want my expertise; many just see me as a source for the drugs they want.
What if patients could get any drug they wanted without a prescription, using physicians only for advice on diagnosis and recommendations of drugs and other treatments that might best address their medical problems? We would still regulate sale of what are now prescription drugs in the same ways we currently regulate alcohol and tobacco. Would there still be a doctor shortage? How much money could doctors charge? Would non-physician providers still compete with us? Would the bodies of overdosed patients litter the streets?
Naturopaths practice like this now, at least to a degree.
Of course, as the pharmacist's comment implies, DEA would not thrive under such a scheme. DEA-enforced restriction of supply of controlled substances leads to higher prices and a flourishing black market, which leads in turn to job security for DEA agents, who continue to pretend to address the problem. Every few weeks the Department of Justice boasts of a new major drug bust as though this represents success. Who do they think they are fooling? We have seen these announcements for years. They represent failure of restrictive drug policy, not success.