ASMI - Cost Effectiveness of Switching RX to OTC

A new study from the Macquarie University Centre for the Health Economy has found that rescheduling of the most commonly used prescription medicines to over-the-counter (OTC) status could save the Australian healthcare system approximately $2.1b a year.  The study, commissioned by the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI), found ‘switching’ from prescription (Rx) to Pharmacist Only (S3) could achieve savings of $1.1b through approximately 17m avoided GP visits, and a further $1b in productivity savings.

The executive director of ASMI, Dr Deon Schoombie, said the study shows there is potential for considerable savings  to governments and the community through a sensible approach to the scheduling of medicines.  “Unfortunately, the process of switching medicines from prescription to non-prescription has all but stalled in Australia and this is impacting health outcomes, healthcare costs and is stifling innovation in the sector,” he said.

The study evaluated the economic and budgetary impacts of switching 11 categories of common Rx medicines used in areas including flu prevention, migraine, cholesterol lowering and heartburn.  Most of the medicines examined in the study have a long history of relatively safe use and many have already been switched to non-prescription status in similar markets overseas such as the UK, US, Sweden, Germany, Canada and New Zealand.

Source:, Wednesday 26 March 2014