Improving the decision-making process for nonprescription drugs: a framework for benefit-risk assessment

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Dec;90(6):791-803. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2011.231. Epub 2011 Nov 2.


Nonprescription drugs pose unique challenges to regulators. The fact that the barriers to access are lower for nonprescription drugs as compared with prescription drugs may permit additional consumers to obtain effective drugs. However, the use of these drugs by consumers in the absence of supervision by a health-care professional may result in unacceptable rates of misuse and suboptimal clinical outcomes. A value-tree method is proposed that defines important benefit and risk domains relevant to nonprescription drugs. This value tree can be used to comprehensively identify product-specific attributes in each domain and can also support formal benefit-risk assessment using a variety of tools. This is illustrated here, using a modification of the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) framework, a flexible tool previously applied in a number of fields, which systematizes an approach to issue review, early alignment of stakeholders, evaluation, and risk mitigation/management. The proposed approach has the potential to provide structured, transparent tools for regulatory decision making for nonprescription drugs.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Drug*
  • Nonprescription Drugs / adverse effects
  • Nonprescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Management / methods*


  • Nonprescription Drugs