HEALTH

Study: Prescription-only PSE legislation carries a significant cost burden

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Prescription-only pseudoephedrine laws result in well more than $278 million in additional burdens to taxpayers, according to a study published by Matrix Global Advisors on Monday. 

"With any public policy that restricts access to a product that is good for some people but misused by others there are inherent distortions, costs and loss of consumer welfare," author Alex Brill wrote. "A policy decision based solely on a concern about the diversion of PSE medicines to meth production is shortsighted because it only considers one side of the issue — the thousands of meth cooks and their domestic meth labs — and not the 18 million families who legitimately need PSE medicines for relief from colds and allergies.

The study broke down many of the costs prescription-only PSE polices accrue, including: 

  • The extra doctor visits necessary to get a PSE prescription contribute $59 million in additional costs to the government, consumers and private insurance companies in the first year following the policy’s implementation;
  • For those consumers who forego a trip to the doctor, the lack of symptomatic relief will likely result in more absenteeism and lost work productivity, adding to the estimated $25 billion annually in lost productivity already attributed to the common cold;
  • PSE consumers may realize some sticker shock as prices for PSE medicines are increased once the cost of adjudicating a prescription is factored into the pricing formula;
  • Health insurance premiums may increase due to additional doctor visits and higher PSE drug costs; and
  • Overall government services may be curtailed as an estimated loss of $219.2 million in state tax revenues is amortized over 10 years. 

And all that additional cost wouldn’t even guarantee a reduction in methamphetamine abuse, the study noted. "On top of creating financial burdens, a prescription-only PSE policy would not be 100% effective at eliminating PSE diversion because it does not address theft and fraudulent prescriptions for these medicines," noted Brill. "In fact, many prescription drugs are heavily abused, despite their prescription status, to the extent that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has labeled prescription drug abuse a ‘public health epidemic.’ According to the 2011 National Drug Threat Assessment, deaths from prescription drug overdoses outnumber deaths due to cocaine, heroin and meth combined." 


But the primary direct economic burden of making PSE medicines prescription-only arises from the extra doctor visits the policy change necessitates, Brill said. Brill referenced a 2011 Avalere Health study that found there was an estimated 579,315 additional doctor visits in the first year after implementation of the policy. "Using a per-visit estimate for private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid of $94, $76, and $70 per physician visit, respectively, Avalere estimated $32.4 million in additional costs for private and public payers," Brill noted. 

The study was supported by a grant from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. 


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P&G co-promotes sleep with Downy and ZzzQuill for National Sleep Awareness Week

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Procter & Gamble’s Downy and ZzzQuil brands have joined forces to help consumers create an environment that is conducive for falling asleep in time for National Sleep Awareness Week March 3 to 10. 

According to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 1-in-4 adults report occasional sleeplessness with difficulty falling asleep at least a few times a week. 

“Downy Infusions Lavender Serenity fabric softener and Downy Unstopables Lush in-wash scent booster are products that help create the perfect sleep atmosphere,” stated Carolina Rogoll, Downy’s brand manager. “There are many things within your sleep habits that you cannot control, but the environment should not be one of them.”

“People who occasionally have trouble sleeping may benefit from lifestyle changes, such as setting up a soothing sleep environment,” stated Joseph Ojile, National Sleep Foundation board member. “However, sometimes it can still be difficult to fall asleep, and that’s when over-the-counter sleep aids containing diphenhydramine HCI can be a good option to treat occasional sleeplessness.”

As part of the promotion, Downy and ZzzQuil will give New York — the "city that never sleeps" — a reason to hop into bed on March 7, P&G stated. The two brands will host the Downy and ZzzQuil Sleep Fest at Amtrak’s Penn Station, which services approximately 500,000 passengers each day. This event will feature beds with Downy washed sheets to showcase the benefits of relaxing and long-lasting scents. Experts, Ojile, will be on-site along with HGTV’s interior designer and host Taniya Nayak to discuss ways to ensure the bedroom can be set up for a cozy night of sleep.

On March 6, Downy also will host a Twitter chat with bloggers, Audrey McClelland (Mom Generations) and Vera Sweeney (Lady and the Blog). The hashtag for the Twitter Chat is #DownyNightSleep. During the chat, participants will be selected at random to receive a year’s supply of Downy products and designer sheets.


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Abbott to launch Kidz ZonePerfect bars in April

BY Michael Johnsen

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. — Abbott on Monday introduced a new line of nutrition bars for active kids branded Kidz ZonePerfect. The new bars are formulated with 5 g of protein, 23 vitamins and minerals, and 3 g of fiber.

And they’re already kid-approved. In a build-a-bar development workshop, the ZonePerfect brand brought together a group of children ages 4 to 10 years to design their dream nutrition bar. The kids were given a wide array of ingredients from dried fruits and chocolate chips to protein sources and grains and were asked to build bars to be judged by their peers. With those ideas, Kidz ZonePerfect was born. 

"To get the right inspiration for our new children’s line, we knew we needed to get out of the kitchen and into the minds of kids," stated Tobe Cohen, division VP and general manager of performance nutrition at Abbott. "Simply put, we had to bring our big kids together with little kids. The result was brilliant: three nutritious Kidz ZonePerfect bars in fun, youth-inspired flavors."

Kidz ZonePerfect is available in peanut butter chocolate chip, caramel crunch and yellow cupcake.

Kidz ZonePerfect is available now in Target stores nationwide, Abbott noted. In April, Kidz ZonePerfect will be available for national distribution. 


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