Study: Recession could pump up market for OTC drugs

While most healthcare industry leaders have already noticed that consumers are cutting back on prescription drugs to save money, fewer have remarked on another drug-related phenomenon. Apparently, over-the-counter drug use is increasing rapidly, starting at $6.7 billion in 2008 and climbing at an expected annual growth rate of 8 percent between 2009 and 2013, according to Kalorama Research.

Kalorama analysts are expecting that pharmas may become more prone to request switches from Rx to OTC status for their blockbuster drugs, since it's cheaper to do that than to fight the emergence of generics when their drug goes off-patent. Drug categories where such switches are common include gastrointestinal drugs, cholesterol fighters, osteoporosis treatments and contraceptives.

Further fueling the growth of OTC drugs, pharmas are likely to see approval of new OTC categories. This should give them additional room to avoid the painful generic battles they've struggled with of late. (Of course, big pharma wouldn't be big pharma if those battles didn't continue--just consider that they may slow down a bit.)

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Healthcare Finance News piece