On average, each dollar spent on over-the-counter (OTC) medicines saves the U.S. health care system $7.20, totaling nearly $146 billion in annual savings, according to a report released March 18 by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA). The CHPA worked with research firm IRI to consult published data sets and economic modeling and to survey more than 5,000 consumers on how they would treat symptoms if OTC medicines did not exist.
Prescription drug costs were based on data from Symphony Health. The nine major therapeutic categories of OTC medicines analyzed were for acute and chronic self-treated conditions: allergy, analgesics, antifungals, cough/cold/flu, lower and upper gastrointestinal (GI), medicated skin, sleep aids, and smoking cessation.
According to the report; the value of OTC medicines is generat from nearly $95 billion in clinical cost savings (avoided doctor’s office visits and diagnostic testing) and nearly $52 billion in drug cost savings (lower-price OTCs versus higher-priced prescription drugs). because Three categories of OTC medicines medicated skin, lower GI, and upper GI made up 61% of the total OTC savings, driven primarily by the price difference between OTC and prescription products.
Commercial insurance plans
Approximately $73.6 billion, or 50.3% of total savings; are capture by commercial insurance plans. “The evidence is clear that OTC medicines help ease the tremendous burden on the health care system by empowering consumer self-care, thereby allowing over-stretched health care practitioners to focus on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with more serious diseases and medical conditions;” Scott Melville, president and chief executive officer of the CHPA, said in a statement.
Every country could raise additional domestic funds for health or diversify their funding sources if they wished to. Options include governments giving higher priority to health in their budget allocations, therefore collecting taxes more efficiently, including compulsory insurance contributions; and raising additional funds through various types of innovative funding mechanisms. Taxes on harmful products such as tobacco and alcohol are one such option.
They reduce consumption thereby improving health; and increase the resources governments can spend on health. A ministry of health cannot, on its own; implement measures to increase funding, but it has the responsibility to try and influence the rest of government. This calls for more and better dialogue between the health policy makers and those that control public spending the ministries of finance and the wider political actors and institutions (such as the parliament and the heads of state).
Even with substantial increases in domestic health expenditure; therefore increased external financial flows will be necessary for many of the low-income countries for a considerable period of time. Because Development partners can raise more funds to channel to poorer countries in innovative ways; but they should also focus on providing more predictable; harmonized and long-term aid flows.