Press Releases

IRI and CHPA Study Finds OTC Medicines Save U.S. Health Care System $146 Billion Each Year

IRI National Consumer Panel survey results quantify direct and indirect savings, driven by access to self-treatment and substitution of OTC products for prescription drugs

CHICAGO – March 28, 2019 – IRI®, a global leader in innovative solutions and services for consumer, retail and media companies, and the Consumer Health Products Association (CHPA), today released a joint study, “Value of OTC Medicines to the U.S. Health Care System,” which quantifies the savings value over-the-counter (OTC) medicine and products afford the U.S. health care system and patients each year. The landmark study found that, on average, each dollar spent on OTC medicines saves the U.S. health care system approximately $7.20, totaling nearly $146 billion in annual savings.

“Our study results show that the value created by the availability of OTC products is hard to overstate,” said Scott Melville, president and chief executive officer of CHPA. “Beyond the $146 billion our study quantified in direct savings, OTC products also provide substantial indirect value by affording increased productivity through fewer missed work days and the expansion of treatment access to 27 million Americans who would otherwise forgo treatment if OTCs were not available.”

The study examined survey results of more than 5,000 consumers who participate in IRI’s National Consumer Panel and determined that direct cost savings due to the availability of OTC medicine come from two primary sources: the substitution of lower-priced OTCs for expensive prescription drugs and the substitution of self-treatment for clinical visits. IRI and CHPA found that these two primary impacts of OTC drug availability contribute nearly $52 billion and $95 billion in respective cost savings annually.

The estimated savings from unnecessary clinical visits is based on the study’s finding that nearly 90 percent of consumers who treat a condition with an OTC medicine would seek professional medical treatment if OTC options were not available. 

“It is clear that OTC medicines help reduce the overall burden on the U.S. health care system by promoting consumer self-care and in turn provide health care practitioners with the incremental time and resources to invest in the diagnosis and treatment of more serious ailments and conditions,” said Navin Gautam, executive, Client Insights, IRI.

Additional key findings from the study include:

  • 61 percent of the total OTC savings from drug costs, or the price difference between the OTC products and their prescription counterparts, are driven by OTC products treating three ailment categories – medicated skin, lower GI and upper GI.
  • 13 million Americans who receive allergy treatment from OTC medicines would forgo treatment for their conditions if nonprescription options were not available. 
  • $34 billion in potential workplace productivity benefits would be lost annually while patients missed work hours to seek treatment or obtain a prescription in the absence of OTC products.
  • $7.7 billion in costs for treatment and testing are avoided each year through the use of OTC medical devices, including products for pain relief, foot comfort and care, heat/ice packs, muscle stimulators and asthma inhalers.

About the Report
“Value of OTC Medicines to the U.S. Health Care System” is a free report available from IRI and CHPA. To download the report and access more information, infographics, videos and other materials regarding this research, visit To learn more about the study, contact Navin Gautam at

About IRI
IRI is a leading provider of big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights that help CPG, OTC health care organizations, retailers, financial services and media companies grow their businesses. A confluence of major external events – a change in consumer buying habits, big data coming into its own, advanced analytics and personalized consumer activation – is leading to a seismic shift in drivers of success in all industries. With the largest repository of purchase, media, social, causal and loyalty data, all integrated on an on-demand, cloud-based technology platform, IRI is empowering the personalization revolution, helping to guide its more than 5,000 clients around the world in their quests to remain relentlessly relevant, capture market share, connect with consumers, collaborate with key constituents and deliver market-leading growth. For more information, visit

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IRI Contact:                                                              
Shelley Hughes                                                          
Phone: +1 312.474.3675                    

CHPA Contact:
Lauren Bloomberg                       
Phone: +1 202.429.3534


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