NEW YORK Over-the-counter medicines save healthcare dollars. It’s certainly a value that consumers are taking advantage of in light of the current recession. According to this report, as well as others — i.e., the Kaiser Family Foundation polls — Americans are cost shifting from more expensive and more time-consuming (having to take time off of work to see a doctor) prescription therapies to OTC medicines.
It’s also a value that healthcare payers are taking advantage of, as evidenced by the simultaneous removal of any recently switched OTC medicine from their preferred-drug formularies and outreach to their covered that this no-longer-available-under-your-plan medicine can now be bought at your local drug store.
And if what IRI is suggesting bears out — that a Food and Drug Administration aggressively regulating medicines through the lens of safety significantly increases the cost associated with bringing new drugs to market — then that chasm between the cost of prescription drug therapy and nonprescription therapy will only grow wider. A safety-first minded FDA can hardly be criticized, but the result will be a slow-down in bringing new drugs to market — at least at first as pharma companies determine how to best navigate a system more sensitive to risk in any benefit-risk scenario.
Increasing the cost in bringing a drug to market will also likely increase the final per-pill or per-injection cost once approved by FDA, further driving consumers and payers in search of appropriate nonprescription alternatives.