ADDING MULTIMEDIA New Study: Over-the-Counter (OTC) Products Used by Millions of Americans Saves Healthcare System Billions Annually



WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) released a
new study, “Value of OTC Medicines to the U.S. Healthcare System,” that
found, on average, each dollar spent on over-the-counter (OTC) medicines
saves the U.S. healthcare system approximately $7.20, totaling nearly
$146 billion in annual savings.

In partnership with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), the study
examined survey results of more than 5,000 consumers and determined that
cost savings due to the availability of OTC medicine come from two major
categories: nearly $52 billion in drug cost savings (lower-priced OTCs
versus prescription drugs); and, nearly $95 billion in cost savings due
to avoidance of unnecessary clinical visits. The study estimated that
nearly 90 percent of consumers who treat a condition with an OTC
medicine would seek professional medical treatment if OTC medicines were
not available in the marketplace, forcing the healthcare system to
absorb unnecessary office visits from hundreds of millions of consumers
who could otherwise self-treat.

“It’s hard to imagine what life would be like if OTC medicines weren’t
available,” said Scott Melville, president and CEO of CHPA. “For this
study, researchers actually mapped out a scenario where non-prescription
options weren’t available to determine the value of OTCs to our
healthcare system. Not surprisingly, in that scenario they found most
consumers would go to a doctor, get a prescription, or delay treatment
and suffer the consequences, like more frequent absences from work, for
example. There are direct and indirect costs associated with each of
these scenarios. And they are enormous.”

The study analyzed nine OTC categories to identify the primary
contributors of cost savings to the healthcare system. The categories
include allergy, analgesics, antifungals, cough/cold/flu, lower GI,
medicated skin, upper GI, sleep, and smoking cessation – which represent
the majority of OTC medicine purchased in the U.S. Three categories,
medicated skin, lower GI, and upper GI, comprised 61 percent of the
total OTC savings, driven primarily by the price difference between OTC
products and their prescription counterparts.

When determining the value across the four categories of insurance
segments within the healthcare system (cash, commercial, Medicaid, and
Medicare), nearly half of the $146 billion in value was generated in the
commercial market. Approximately $73.6 billion dollars, or 50.3 percent
of total savings, were captured by commercial plans. Commercial plans
include a plurality of consumers, with a 48 percent share of consumers,
while cash, Medicaid, and Medicare plans comprise 13 percent, 20
percent, and 19 percent of the market respectively.

“The evidence is clear that OTC medicines help ease the tremendous
burden on the healthcare system by empowering consumer self-care,
thereby allowing over-stretched healthcare practitioners to focus on the
diagnosis and treatment of patients with more serious diseases and
medical conditions,” said Melville.

Additional key findings from the study include:

  • OTC medicines provide additional value through expanded access to more
    than 27 million consumers who would otherwise forgo treatment
    more than 13 million Americans for allergies alone.
  • When factoring in time missed during work hours to seek treatment or
    obtain a prescription, the availability of OTC medicines produces an
    additional savings of approximately $34 billion in potential
    workplace productivity
    benefits annually.
  • OTC medical devices – including products for pain relief, foot comfort
    and care, heat/ice packs, muscle simulators, asthma inhalers, etc. –
    also generate significant additional value to the healthcare system,
    totaling $7.7 billion annually for treatment and testing.

For more information, infographics, video, and other materials regarding
this research, visit

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the
138-year-old national trade association representing the leading
manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and
dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines
saves the U.S. healthcare system more than $7, contributing a total of
nearly $146 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to
empowering self-care by preserving and expanding choice and availability
of consumer healthcare products.


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