The Self-Care Economy: OTC Medicines in the U.S. Deliver Value to the Health System

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

Posted 2/7/12 on Health Populi

U.S. health consumers’ purchase and use of over-the-counter medicines (OTCs) generate $102 billion worth of value to the health system every year. Half of this value accrues to employers who sponsor health insurance for their workforce; 25% goes to government payers (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid); and, 25% returns to self-insured and uninsured people.

For every $1 spent on OTCs, $6.50 is saved by the U.S. health system, shown by the chart.

For millions of health consumers, OTCs substitute for a visit to a doctor’s office: most cost-savings generated by OTC use are in saved costs of not visiting a clinician, as discussed inThe Value of OTC Medicine to the United States, published by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association in January 2012.

Continue reading “The Self-Care Economy: OTC Medicines in the U.S. Deliver Value to the Health System”

A Doctor’s Practical Guide To Prescription Drugs

Kenneth Lin

First published 3/30/11 under Healthcare Headaches at US News.

When I was in residency training, one of my more challenging patients was a woman in her sixties who ended up in the hospital again and again with complications from heart failure and diabetes. I and her other physicians prescribed a dozen powerful medications to keep her conditions under control, but nothing seemed to work. Her blood sugar level was always too high or too low, and, despite our repeated instructions and reminders, it wasn’t clear that she understood what each of her medications was for or how to take them on schedule.

Finally, I made a house call in the hope of sorting things out. As soon as I entered my patient’s apartment, I realized just how big the problem was. A jumble of prescription bottles sat on a table in her living room. But when I compared this collection to the copy of her medication list that I had brought with me, mismatches emerged. She had been taking a few medications twice or three times as often as prescribed, and several not at all. It turned out she had been confused by the instructions printed on the labels. Did “take three times daily” mean the same as “take once every eight hours”? And when was it okay to take medications labeled “as needed”? Continue reading “A Doctor’s Practical Guide To Prescription Drugs”