New LJS Study Finds Broad Consumer Acceptance of Behind-The-Counter Drugs

Friday, November 30, 2007 General News
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CHICAGO, Nov. 29 A study by Leo J. Shapiro & Associates(LJS) reveals that two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. Food and DrugAdministration (FDA) should make certain drugs obtainable without aprescription, but only after consultation with a pharmacist. With the FDAcurrently exploring the public health benefit to consumers of such a"behind-the-counter" (BTC) status of drugs, the results of the study show amajority (67%) of consumers are attracted by the convenience and access totheir medications BTC, even if insurance doesn't cover the cost.

Sixty-two percent of consumers agree that obtaining BTC medications from apharmacist would be more convenient than seeing a doctor. Two thirds alsoagree that BTC would allow people without the benefit of health insurance tohave access to medications they may need. Among households without healthinsurance this belief was even stronger, 4 out of 5 (82%) of the uninsuredbelieve a BTC category would allow them greater access to needed medications.

Consumers do report, through the LJS study, that safety and oversight areserious concerns. While about half (53%) agree that pharmacists currently havethe knowledge and training to dispense BTC drugs; 17 percent disagree and afull 30 percent are neutral or uncertain. This concern for patient safety wasalso reflected when a majority (70%) agreed that, "my doctor should benotified of BTC drugs I receive at a pharmacy so they can be reviewed andincluded in my medical records."

Also revealing in the study was the public's lack of confidence in the FDAto keep drugs safe and adequately monitored. Only 44 percent of respondentsfelt the FDA could ensure BTC drug safety. If a serious problem developed witha BTC drug, there is no consensus about who is to blame. The public would holdthe pharmaceutical company most liable (38%), followed by the FDA (26%) andthe pharmacist who dispensed the drug (25%).

While just 1 in 5 respondents report having problems filling aprescription in the past year because they could not see a doctor, theinability to obtain needed drugs was higher within certain populations. Women(24%) reported a slightly higher problem; it was higher (31%) for women andmen in their peak working years (ages 25-54); and highest (39%) for those whoare uninsured. Over half (55%) of the adult population in the US report takingprescription drugs on a regular basis.

Leo J. Shapiro & Associates is a marketing research firm that specializesin the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. For more information pleasevisit Respondents were interviewed in person by telephoneduring November 2007 in this study of 450 US households.

SOURCE Leo J. Shapiro & Associates

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