Over-the-Counter Drugs Cut Cost of Colds

Study finds they reduce unnecessary doctor visits, lost days of work

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TUESDAY, Oct. 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Savings of $4.75 billion a year could be achieved in the United States if more people used over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat common upper respiratory infections, says a Northwestern University study.

The majority of those savings would come from improved work productivity and fewer unnecessary visits to doctors, according to the study. It was sponsored by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which promotes the role of over-the-counter medicines.

The researchers compared the results of using OTC medications to treat colds with the results of using no treatment.

"Many factors involved in the treatment of common upper respiratory infections contribute to a major economic burden. This study suggests that when adults used 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 health-care system and the economy alike," lead author Dr. Martin Lipsky, a professor of family medicine, said in a prepared statement.

The study will be presented Oct. 28 at the World Self-Medication Industry meeting in Beijing.

More information

The National Library of Medicine has more about the common cold.

SOURCE: Northwestern University, news release, Oct. 26, 2004

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