Potential Reduction in Unnecessary Visits to Doctors from Safe and Appropriate Use of OTC Medicines Could Save Consumers and Taxpayers Billions Annually

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The cost of healthcare in America is staggering. Healthcare expenditures in the United States (U.S.) surpassed $2.3 trillion in 2008, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990. Greater use of safe and effective over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, those available without a prescription, could help Americans cut healthcare costs while meeting their everyday healthcare needs.

The aim of this paper is to estimate savings that could be achieved by reducing unnecessary visits to primary care physicians for patients who can address symptoms with appropriate use of OTC medicines. For the purpose of this research, we defined primary care physicians as including pediatricians, internists, and general practitioners based on definitions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Your Health at Hand survey referenced throughout also included pediatricians and internists in its definition of primary care physicians. 


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