Following Great Britain’s Lead on EMR and (Maybe) OTC Statins

John A. Marcille

We’ve come down foursquare for the Anglo-English alliance this month, as two of our stories show that we can still learn a thing or two from our older British cousins. Our cover story on movement toward a national EMR system compares what’s going on here to how a similar effort is being undertaken in the U.K.

There, the impetus for change is the frustration created by long lines leading into providers’ offices. We want better efficiencies here, as well, but are equally focused on cost control. Maybe more than equally.

“Whether it works or not won’t be known for some years, but tech experts here in the United States are clearly envious of some advantages the British have in pushing adoption,” Contributing Editor John Carroll writes of the U.K. effort.

Then we look at what might be gained by the FDA’s pending ruling on OTC low-dose statins. An FDA approval would follow a similar change in the U.K.

Earlier this year, low-dose statins went OTC in the U.K. when Merck’s Zocor was approved for what is known there as “behind-the-counter” status. That means that when a consumer wants OTC Zocor, he needs to ask the pharmacist for the drug and is counseled on its benefits and risks. Even with the behind-the-counter restriction, which we of course don’t have here, the move had its critics.

Still, it’s worth noting that, as we seek to recover from a bruising election, we still gain some knowledge and inspiration from those folks whom we rebelled against over 225 years ago and who made our elections possible.

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