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Med switch from 'script to OTC costly

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EL PASO, Texas, Aug 23, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A medication's change from prescription status to over-the-counter status may actually hurt those who need the drugs the most.

That's because private insurers are starting to cease paying for prescription drugs that have become over-the-counter medicines, the El Paso (Texas) Times reported Monday.

Medicaid patients, for example, whose plan won't cover over-the-counter drugs may have a harder time trying to get help or relief on their own.

"Claritin non-drowsy went over the counter earlier this year. We found out that private insurers weren't covering it anymore when we submitted claims for our customers," said pharmacist Benny Salazar of El Paso, Texas. "This was also the case with Prilosec."

Some people with chronic conditions, such as allergies or heartburn, must take medications regularly just to function. A packet of 10 Claritin 24-hour non-drowsy tablets sells for about $10, while a package of 14 Prilosec tablets retails for about $11.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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