OTC Products Save U.S. Healthcare System Hours and Money

March 19, 2019

CHPA says over $146 billion and countless productivity hours are saved by the availability and accessibility of OTC medications and products. 

A recent white paper by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) reaffirms over-the-counter (OTC) medications and products as one of the U.S. healthcare system’s greatest first lines of defense. 

The CHPA reports that, on average, American households spend nearly $500 on OTC products each year. Instead of having to schedule clinical visits to obtain prescriptions for medications or products to self-treat disease - medications for allergies, analgesics, cough/cold/flu, sleep aids, etc - the U.S. healthcare system is saved many hours, productivity, and around $146 billion. 

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The study, based on a survey of more than 5,000 people, found that $52 billion in savings results directly from drug cost savings and an additional $94 billion results from not having to schedule a doctor’s visit. Around 48% of these savings were calculated to result from the commercial market, whereas cash constituted 13% of the total savings, Medicaid constituted 20%, and Medicare constituted 19%. 

Results from the survey conducted by the CHPA suggest that an estimated 90% of consumers who regularly treat a condition with OTCs would otherwise seek professional medical treatment if the OTC were not available. Should particular OTC medications suddenly require a prescription for access, nearly 27 million consumers said that they would no longer look for the product(s).

The CHPA says that “the U.S. healthcare system could not absorb the additional office visits from hundreds of millions of consumers to get treatment or obtain prescriptions for mild conditions that they can self-treat.” 

OTC medical devices saved the U.S. healthcare industry an additional $7.7 billion, whether indicated for the treatment of a condition ($4.8 billion), or for testing purposes ($2.9 billion). 

Access the full published study here.