The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, concluded that the Rx-to-OTC switch of the first proton pump inhibitor medication in 2003 was temporally associated with a significant decrease in the trend of physician visit rates for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as heartburn, in multiple outpatient health care environments in the United States. Although more studies are needed to determine whether these changes truly reflect a reduction in nonessential physician visits, these findings suggest that successful Rx-to-OTC conversions of drugs treating common medical conditions may have a profound and sustained impact on outpatient health care utilization in the United States.
Rx-to-OTC switch is a data-driven, scientifically rigorous, and highly regulated process that allows consumers to have OTC access to a growing range of medicines. For a medicine to be granted OTC status, it must have a wide safety margin and be effective, and must bear understandable labelling to ensure proper use.
Potential benefits to consumers of OTC drugs include increased access to effective medications, avoidance of unnecessary physician visits, and promoting increased patient autonomy and successful self-care. In addition, the availability of effective OTC medications for common conditions may be advantageous for health care systems by reducing the number of nonessential physician visits, while creating a more rational allocation of health care resources to manage more serious conditions and other health care priorities.
Time Trends in Physician Visits for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Before and After the Rx-to-OTC Switch of Proton Pump Inhibitors, The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology2016, 00(0) 1–7. DongW. Chang,MD,MS, Jonathan Grotts,MA,Chi-hong Tseng, PhD, and Eric P. Brass,MD, PhD
Link to CHPA’s website (CHPA is the WSMI member association in the USA):