Over the counter medicines are products that can be bought by consumers to treat common ailments without the need for a prescription. Not only do they treat illnesses, but many OTC products provide instant relief to sudden, unanticipated symptoms. OTC medicines have extended the reach of access to safe treatments of self-curable illnesses that might have otherwise required a physician visit. Avoiding a physician visit saves the consumer time and money while providing the consumer with a sense of self control over their health and wellness.  “Consumers and taxpayers could save $5.2 billion annually if half of the unnecessary visits to primary care physicians were avoided by more self-care, including greater use of OTC medicines” https://www.chpa.org/marketstats.aspx. OTC products reduce health care costs by opening the door to safe, effective and easy to use medicines that help millions of people treat common illnesses.

OTC medicines and products allow consumers to self- treat and manage health conditions conveniently, while allowing US healthcare systems to save billions annually. One study suggests that “availability of OTC medicine in the seven most highly used OTC classes (allergy, analgesics, antifungals, cough/cold/flu, lower and upper gastrointestinal, and medicated skin products) saves the U.S. healthcare system $102 billion annually because the products allow consumers effective self-treatment of many commonly occurring health conditions” (Booz & Co., & Consumer Healthcare Products Association, 2012). https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/54/6/909/565331

The biggest savings with using OTC medicines come from clinical cost savings and drug savings. Clinical cost savings come from avoided primary care visits and drug savings are made because OTC products provide an alternative to high priced prescription medication. “$1 spent on OTC medicines equals $6 to $7 in savings for the U.S. health system due to fewer physician visits and spending on more expensive care. https://www.pfizer.com/files/health/VOM_OTC.pdf  If OTC medicines were not easily accessible, more consumers would seek out prescriptions. More prescriptions would mean an increased amount of doctor visits that would require thousands of additional medical professionals to accommodate the increased prescription demand. OTC programs allow for consumers and health systems alike to save big on both time and money.

Without access to OTC products, under-served populations would have to choose between high cost medical care or no care at all for conditions that they experience. Our programs allow for hundreds of OTC products to be made available to people regardless of their location. Not only are visits to primary care physicians expensive, but they are often time consuming and unnecessary. Choosing self-care can help keep consumers active and healthy. “By keeping the American workforce healthy and at work, OTC medicines offer $23 billion in potential productivity benefits from avoided doctor’s office visits and time not having to be away from work for medical appointments” https://www.chpa.org/marketstats.aspx . OTC products help to expand self-care treatment options while greatly advancing the health of individuals. Overall, OTC medicines provide 24/7 access to affordable healthcare and treatment options for both consumers and the healthcare system.

OTC Products and their Effect on the Health Care Industry