The use of over-the-counter (OTC) medications saves the healthcare system tens of billions of dollars a year in additional costs, according to a Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) study released last week. Such savings could be crucial for hospitals looking to shore up bottom lines by saving money on prescription pharmaceuticals and avoiding uncecessary admissions.
The study concludes that every dollar spent on over-the-counter medications saves the U.S. healthcare system between $6 and $7, or as much as $102 billion a year.
"OTC medicines allow the healthcare system to focus its limited resources on the diagnosis and treatment of more serious diseases that require physician involvement, while providing consumers the opportunity to care for themselves," states the study, which focused on self-treatment over seeking treatment from healthcare professionals.
The study estimates that about 240 million people could rely on over-the-counter medications for treating seven common healthcare conditions, including colds, allergies, acid reflux and lower gastrointestinal tract issues.
"It is paramount that our policy-makers do all they can to encourage consumer access to OTC medicines for self-treatable conditions," CHPA President Scott Melvin said in a statement.