Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using Over-the-counter Drugs To Treat Upper Respiratory Infections May Save $4.75 Billion Annually

Date:
October 29, 2004
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Using nonprescription, or over-the-counter (OTC), medications to treat common upper respiratory infections could save $4.75 billion a year, according to a new study conducted by researchers from Northwestern University.

Using nonprescription, or over-the-counter (OTC), medications to treat common upper respiratory infections could save $4.75 billion a year, according to a new study conducted by researchers from Northwestern University.

The study, which was sponsored by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and will be presented on Oct. 28 at a meeting of the World Self-Medication Industry in Beijing, demonstrates that the majority of savings from taking OTC medications stems from improving work productivity and reducing unnecessary physician visits.

The study, led by Martin Lipsky, M.D., professor of family medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford, compared the results of using OTC medications to treat upper respiratory infections with those with non-treatment.

Lipsky and colleagues found an average cost savings of $9 per episode among adults using OTCs to treat their symptoms. With an average of three upper respiratory infection episodes per year among Americans age 18 to 65, this translates into potential annual savings of $4.75 billion.

“Many factors involved in the treatment of common upper respiratory infections contribute to a major economic burden. This study suggests that when adults use OTC medications to treat their symptoms, not only is there a symptom benefit, but there also appears to be a substantial cost savings to the healthcare system and the economy alike,” Lipsky said.

“It’s important for people to understand the signs and symptoms of these common conditions and to know that many nonprescription products are available to treat symptoms at a fairly low cost,” Lipsky said. The common cold is a leading cause of missed workdays and decreased productivity, resulting in an average loss of 8.7 work hours per cold episode. The economic impact of this lost productivity is estimated at $25 billion, with $16.6 billion attributed to on-the-job productivity loss.

“Each year, especially during cold season, the economy takes a big hit from missed time from work and loss of on-the-job productivity,” said study economist Teresa Waters, associate director for research, Center for Health Services Research, and associate professor, department of preventative medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

“By alleviating symptoms, OTCs keep people more productive and reduce physician visits, without compromising health outcomes. This may be the first study to clearly demonstrate these benefits from the use of nonprescription medications,” Waters said.

About the Study

The study compared using OTC medications to treat the symptoms of upper respiratory infections with non-treatment of symptoms. Researchers used a decision analytic model which incorporated a series of key factors related to the treatment of common upper respiratory infections, including OTC medicine use and side effects, impact on work productivity, physician care by phone and in office, emergency department care, antibiotic use and side effects, hospital admission for complications of upper respiratory infection and hospital admission for complications of antibiotic use. Under baseline assumptions, OTC use was less expensive than non-treatment: $184 per upper respiratory infection episode (OTC use) compared to $193 per episode (non-treatment).

About Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections include several conditions such as the common cold and sore throat. Each year, Americans suffer from about one billion colds and the average adult suffers from two to four colds per year. These colds result in approximately 15 million lost workdays each year in the United States. There can be many different symptoms for upper respiratory infections, which may be caused by a variety of factors including congestion, cough, fever, and nasal obstruction. Upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold, coughs and the flu, are often caused by viruses, whose symptoms can be treated with OTC medications.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Using Over-the-counter Drugs To Treat Upper Respiratory Infections May Save $4.75 Billion Annually." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041027143030.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2004, October 29). Using Over-the-counter Drugs To Treat Upper Respiratory Infections May Save $4.75 Billion Annually. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041027143030.htm
Northwestern University. "Using Over-the-counter Drugs To Treat Upper Respiratory Infections May Save $4.75 Billion Annually." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041027143030.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins