ALLEGAN, Mich. —There’s a new class of medicines being defined by such companies as Perrigo. They’re not behind-the-counter classifications, but more of an amalgated over-the-counter remedy and a doctor-prescribed medicine covered by third-party payers. Perrigo has coined the classification as “ORx.”
“A lot of the health plans start doing the math and [realize] it’s in their best interest financially to consider [coverage for OTC] products,” Ronald Schutt, VP OTC marketing consumer healthcare for Perrigo, told Drug Store News. Why pay $5 to $6 per pill for a prescription-only solution when the same medicine is available OTC at 72 cents per dose, or 53 cents per dose when offered as a store brand, Schutt asked.
The evolution of the prescribed OTC has been driven by the many blockbuster switches in the past decade—for example, proton-pump inhibitors Prilosec OTC and Prevacid 24HR, second-generation antihistamines Claritin and Zyrtec or the laxative MiraLax. Each of these medicines had a prescription-only patient base. And while parent pharmaceutical companies did their best to convert patients to a new Rx product—Prilosec OTC to Nexium, or Claritin to Clarinex—a large number of consumers stuck with their favorite brands as they migrated to OTC aisles. In 2008, doctors wrote more than 4.5 million prescriptions for Prilosec OTC that were covered by a prescription drug plan, according to Perrigo.
Since 2008, Perrigo has taken steps for its OTC products to be eligible for reimbursement from private payers, Medicare and Medicaid, Schutt said. Many retailers are pushing to have their store brands covered under private payers as well, Schutt added.