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AMERICANS FAVOR GREATER OTC MEDICINE CHOICES

 AMERICANS FAVOR GREATER OTC MEDICINE CHOICES
 WASHINGTON, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A new national study shows that


Americans would like to have direct over-the-counter (OTC) access to more medicines that have been shown to be safe and effective through prescription use.
 According to Heller Research Group, two of every three Americans would welcome additional prescription (Rx) drugs being transferred to OTC status.
 This transfer, known as "Rx-to-OTC Switch," is controlled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under law, the agency is obligated to transfer to OTC status the best established, proven and safest Rx drugs, providing that consumer labeling for proper use can be written. FDA also is required to do the opposite -- move an OTC drug to Rx status if new information shows safety or effectiveness problems.
 Consumers today have access to more than 400 OTC products that use ingredients and dosage strengths available only by prescription 15 years ago. These products treat a wide range of ailments, from pain relief and skin conditions to cough and cold symptoms and feminine yeast infections.
 The positive response in the Heller study to the switch concept is related to convenience and cost. Almost six in 10 Americans believe the availability of switched OTC medicines has allowed them to save the time and expense of going to a doctor.
 (In 1991, MIT economist Peter Temin attributed major savings to the switch process, calculating that U.S. consumers saved $770 million in 1989 alone as a direct result of cough and cold medicines that had been switched from Rx to OTC.)
 Despite the availability of an increasing number of OTC medicines and a wider range of self-treatment opportunities, the Heller study found that Americans often "tough out" their problems without the help of medicines. Half the time people suffer from common ailments such as headaches and colds they use nothing at all or rely on a simple home remedy such as a salt water gargle.
 Only 38 percent of the time do they turn to OTC medicines, up just slightly from 35 percent in 1983 when a similar study was conducted by the Heller Research Group. When consumers do turn to OTC drugs, the study confirms that they use them safely and carefully.
 According to Heller, the most common ailment reported by Americans is the all-too-common cold. It is followed closely by muscle pain, headaches, lip problems and minor cuts and scratches.
 However, while colds are the most frequently reported everyday ailment, headaches are most likely to be treated with an OTC medicine (76 percent of the time), followed by athlete's foot (treated in 69 percent of the reported cases), lip problems (in 68 percent of the cases), the common cold (63 percent) and chronic dandruff (59 percent).
 The nationally representative study was conducted for the Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association (NDMA), a Washington organization that represents manufacturers of OTC medicines.
 New York-based Heller Research Group has been conducting market research since 1972.
 -0- 7/21/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: More detailed information on this national consumer survey can be obtained by contacting the NDMA Public Affairs Department at 202-429-9260./
 /CONTACT: Meg Grattan or Frank Rathbun of the Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association, 202-429-9260/ CO: Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association ST: District of Columbia IN: MTC SU:


SM -- NYHFNS9 -- 1010 07/21/92 07:05 EDT
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Date:Jul 21, 1992
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