Life-saving drugs not given in extenuating situations

Remember common sense? It seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird, even when the consequences of its absence can be fatal.

Dec. 31, 2013, Kevin Houdeshell, of Sheffield Lake, Ohio, ran out of the insulin he needed to keep his diabetes in check. He went to a pharmacy, where he was told his prescription had expired and he would have to get a new one.

But, for various reasons, Houdeshell, 36, could not contact his health care professional immediately. He died in early January 2014, because he was not given at least a temporary supply of insulin. His death spurred some states to pass laws allowing pharmacists to provide short-term supplies of life-saving drugs without prescriptions.

Doing so would have been considered common sense at one time. But today’s lawsuit-happy culture, combined with laws intended to combat drug abuse, have made many pharmacists leery of giving anyone any behind-the-counter drug without a prescription — even when the need is clear.

West Virginia now has a version of “Kevin’s law,” enacted earlier this year. Good. How sad, however, that the new statute was needed in the first place.

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