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OTC Drugs Save Consumers $20 Billion in 1996.
A recent report indicates that American health consumers may have saved up to $20 billion by using over-the-counter (OTC) medications in 1996, marking an increase from savings of $10.5 billion in 1987. The report was prepared by Kline & Co. of Fairfield, New Jersey, and was released May 16 at the Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association (NDMA) Annual Meeting/Executive Conference.

The cost savings were calculated by considering increased healthcare costs, the transfer of drugs previously only available by prescription to nonprescription status (Rx-to-OTC switch), and consumer desire to benefit from and "take full advantage of expanding opportunities in self-medication," according to an NDMA newsletter. The calculations compared the average cost of an OTC drug with the typical cost of an office visit to a physician, purchasing an Rx drug, and, for people on hourly wages, the lost income while visiting an M.D. Based on these factors, the study concluded that OTC drugs which were switched from Rx-only status constituted $12.9 billion of the $20.6 billion savings in 1996.

[Anon. 1997. OTC Drugs Saved Consumers $20 Billion in 1996: Kline Study Documents Cost-Effectiveness of Nonprescription Medicines. NDMA Executive Newsletter. No. 10-97, May 16.]

Article copyright American Botanical Council.


By Mark Blumenthal