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ROUNDTABLE: Improving patient outcomes, controlling costs with OTCs


More Americans are more often seeking their ounce of prevention. According to Bain & Co.’s recent Healthy Living Survey, 75% of consumers are in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. Take that predominant mindset, coupled with the outcomes-driven preventive focus associated with the Affordable Care Act, and you have a formula for OTC success at retail pharmacy.

To get a better sense of how OTC brands are helping to improve patient outcomes and drive down healthcare costs, DSN invited some leading OTC executives to share their opinions on the value of OTCs.

How do you create value in your OTC portfolio considering retailers and health systems are looking for ways to improve patient outcomes and control healthcare costs?


T.J. Higgins, president Pfizer Consumer Healthcare North American

Over-the-counter medicines play a vital role in consumer health and wellness, enabling consumers to routinely and effectively manage conditions like muscle pain, allergies, headaches, cold and cough, heartburn and gastrointestinal disorders. Broad availability of OTC medicines empowers consumers to quickly and affordably access treatments when and where they need them, enabling them to live healthier, more productive lives. Pfizer’s effort to move products from prescription to OTC status is a core business imperative and includes a robust R&D program to deliver value and increase consumer access to safe and effective therapies that significantly improve lives.

Pfizer Consumer Healthcare is among the largest over-the-counter healthcare products companies in the world, with a global footprint of operations in more than 90 countries. We maintain leadership positions in many markets and sell two of the top 10 global brands — Advil and Centrum.  PCH develops, manufactures and markets leading nonprescription medicines, vitamins and nutritional products. We strive to bring new and better solutions to market that help consumers around the world support their health and enhance personal well-being. Pfizer’s efforts to expand OTC options represent another chapter in the company's innovation to significantly improve the lives of patients and bring added value to consumers, healthcare professionals and the public health system overall.

PCH drives growth through major global brands, including Centrum (the world's No. 1 multivitamin), Caltrate (the world's No. 1 calcium supplement) and Advil (the world's No. 1 ibuprofen analgesic brand). The division's major categories consist of pain management, dietary supplements, respiratory and personal care.


Brian McNamara, division head of Novartis OTC

At Novartis Consumer Health, we believe in the power of our OTC brands to help consumers around the world take care of themselves and their families to live healthy lives. Creating accessible and affordable medicines that provide the best patient outcomes is a conscious investment and continuous journey that we endeavor with retail partners and health authorities globally.


We start by listening to consumers, like giving headache and migraine sufferers a simple way to share information via the US Excedrin Facebook page. It also means acting on what we hear, like innovating a longer-lasting formulation of our pain-relieving Voltaren gel so that people can get through the day without having to worry about their pain returning.


Our products are science-based and benefit-driven. And as part of greater Novartis, we have access to experts and opportunities that can drive our innovation — collaborating with our colleagues at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, for example, or working with our pharmaceuticals division to determine potential Rx-to-OTC switches within the Novartis portfolio.


We also know that retailers, particularly in the United States, want partners who can provide the latest shopper marketing techniques and insights. We invest in these capabilities by regularly conducting shopper research studies and sharing our information with retailers so together we can provide the best OTC solutions that address consumers’ needs.


When it comes to curtailing healthcare costs, we know the impact of OTCs and the valuable role self-care plays within healthcare systems. In the United States alone, OTC medicines contribute $102 billion worth of savings in the healthcare system every year.* With trusted and efficacious brands like Excedrin  and Triaminic, we know we’re doing our part to improve health and create value.

*Source:  “The Value of OTC Medicine to the United States,” Booz & Co., Jan. 2012


Tim Toll
, executive VP sales
 at Pharmavite

Pharmavite believes that consumers need to be encouraged to lead a healthy lifestyle, which includes balanced diet, exercise and supplements. However, nutrient shortfalls are a reality for most Americans. Dietary supplements are a tool, along with food, that can help consumers optimize nutrient intake when their diets fall short of their nutrient needs. 

According to the latest NHANES data (2010), most Americans fall short of essential nutrients, such as vitamins C and D, calcium, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Supplements may be necessary to optimize intake of certain nutrients.

Pharmavite is working to actively educate pharmacists and other allied healthcare professionals on ways to help guide their patients when choosing supplements. It is extremely important that healthcare professionals assess nutrient intake from food, fortified food and supplements in order to decide how to help consumers optimize nutrient value. 

Nature Made’s portfolio of high-quality products offers solutions to consumers to meet almost every nutrient need they may have.


Gary Downing, CEO at Insight Pharmaceuticals

At Insight, the rapid pace of healthcare change has significant impact on our brand discussions and new product strategies as we seek better ways to serve the healthcare needs of consumers. Insight has a diverse OTC portfolio and as the No. 1 nonprescription women’s healthcare company, we understand over-the-counter offerings have an opportunity to play an even greater role in patient’s health. This is particularly true when there are OTC treatment options available that are as effective as prescription options. 

For example, Monistat offers women a self-treatment option for vaginal yeast infections with an OTC medicine that starts providing relief significantly faster than the leading prescription treatment — and is just as effective. As wait times for doctors’ visits continue to grow, highly effective nonprescription treatment options provide a significant value to suffering patients. Women also want to be better informed and take greater control of their health. Therefore, companies like Insight have an opportunity to

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