The study, “Value of OTC Medicines to the U.S. Health Care System,” quantifies the savings value over-the-counter medicine and products afford the U.S. health care system and patients each year.
According to the study, 61% of the total OTC savings from drug costs, or the price difference between the OTC products and their prescription counterparts, are driven by OTC products treating three ailment categories—medicated skin, lower GI and upper GI.
Also, $7.7 billion in costs for treatment and testing are avoided each year through the use of OTC medical devices, including products for pain relief, foot comfort and care, heat/ice packs, muscle stimulators and asthma inhalers.
“Our study results show that the value created by the availability of OTC products is hard to overstate,” said Scott Melville, president and chief executive officer of CHPA. “Beyond the $146 billion our study quantified in direct savings, OTC products also provide substantial indirect value by affording increased productivity through fewer missed work days and the expansion of treatment access to 27 million Americans who would otherwise forgo treatment if OTCs were not available.”
The study examined survey results of more than 5,000 consumers who participate in IRI’s National Consumer Panel and determined that direct cost savings due to the availability of OTC medicine come from two primary sources: the substitution of lower-priced OTCs for expensive prescription drugs and the substitution of self-treatment for clinical visits. IRI and CHPA found that these two primary impacts of OTC drug availability contribute nearly $52 billion and $95 billion in respective cost savings annually.