Beginning that fateful week in March 2020 when everybody’s life modified, well being care settings closed their doorways en masse.
From main care to ambulatory surgical procedure, bodily remedy to therapeutic massage remedy, practically each setting of care suspended operations, apart from emergency departments linked to hospitals and pharmacies. Sure, pharmacies. Greater than 60,000 remained open to sufferers, and most pharmacists continued their function as a supply for OTC merchandise and the free-of-charge counseling that always goes with them.
Making certain Entry to Drugs
Telemedicine grew at an unprecedented charge beginning in April 2020, however it didn’t totally fill the well being care void. People needing acute drugs, dose changes, or remedy for persistent illnesses misplaced direct entry to practitioners, however pharmacies remaining open meant sufferers may nonetheless obtain their lifesaving drugs. After all, foot site visitors slowed, and the flu was virtually nonexistent in 2020, however a whole bunch of tens of millions of People had entry to primary triage, care supply, drugs, and testing provides.
Cornerstone of Well being Care
Greater than 80% of adults use OTC merchandise as first-line remedy for frequent illnesses. With People making roughly 3 billion journeys to buy OTC merchandise yearly and 60 million People utilizing them who would in any other case not search remedy, affected person entry to those merchandise is important to a well-functioning well being care system. It’s inconceivable lately to schedule an workplace go to, procure a prescription, and have it adjudicated by insurance coverage simply to get ibuprofen for an ankle sprain. A prescription for loratadine? Laughable. But lower than 2 many years in the past, nonsedating antihistamines have been deemed too unsafe to be bought over-the-counter.
Self-Care Does Not Imply Lack of Care
Making merchandise out there with no prescription doesn’t must imply sufferers go with out care. Pharmacists and different well being care professionals can counsel sufferers on all varieties of accessible and reasonably priced OTC merchandise. Does an Apple Watch’s electrocardiograph or pulse oximetry app maintain sufferers from seeing their cardiologists? Do being pregnant exams maintain girls from visiting their gynecologists? Do wetting drops stop sufferers from going to their ophthalmologists?
Do niacin or omega oils maintain sufferers from getting their ldl cholesterol checked? The reply to all these questions isn’t any. Pharmacists have a number of encounters with sufferers on daily basis, and most are simply as significant to a affected person’s care as billable encounters.
Increasing Entry Via OTCs and Testing
COVID-19 self-administered testing is authorised and out there. Well being plans have picked up on the facility of affected person comfort. Waning resistance in opposition to self-empowerment, which the pandemic necessitated, has enlisted a bunch of home-based diagnostics offering accessible and reasonably priced screening and rescreening on to well being plan members—with no prescription. Want to enhance A1c testing and reporting? Why not look to pharmacies and even ship the exams on to sufferers’ residences?
Postpandemic Self-Care and OTC Product Use
We’re solely a summer time away from what is going to probably be the primary broadly prevalent cough and chilly season of bronchial asthma flare ups, influenza, middle-ear infections, and rhinovirus in practically 2 years. As social distancing and masking disappear, we’ll once more share microbes. Illness surveillance and affected person care will nonetheless have a major spot within the consciousness of the frontline pharmacist’s thoughts in all seasons. Schooling, triage, testing, and counseling have a higher which means and function than ever earlier than, and far of this function is enabled by entry to OTC merchandise.
We hope you benefit from the 2021 OTC Information®!
Troy Trygstad, PharmD, PhD, MBA, is vp of pharmacy supplier partnerships for Neighborhood Care of North Carolina, which works collaboratively with greater than 2000 medical practices to serve greater than 1.6 million Medicaid, Medicare, commercially insured, and uninsured sufferers. He acquired his PharmD and MBA levels from Drake College and a PhD in pharmaceutical outcomes and coverage from the College of North Carolina. He additionally serves on the board of administrators of the American Pharmacists Affiliation Basis and the Pharmacy High quality Alliance.
OTC use statistics. Client Healthcare Merchandise Affiliation. Accessed Could 24, 2021. https://www.chpa.org/about-consumer-healthcare/research-data/otc-use-statistics