Price, Value Key in OTC Medication--November 2008

November 6, 2008
Eileen Koutnik-Fotopoulos

Americans rank effectiveness, safety, and confidence high when it comes to choosing OTC medicines, according to a Nielsen survey.

As the United States grapples with the battered economy, Americans place more importance on price and value when choosing OTC medications, compared with global consumers.

The findings are based on a global online survey conducted by The Nielsen Company in partnership with the Association of the European Self-Medication Industry. The Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey found that 30% of US consumers consider price important when choosing OTC products, while on average, only 17% of global consumers do. One quarter of Americans consider whether the product is a good value, while on average, 15% of global consumers make this a consideration.

When choosing an OTC medication, Americans rank the product’s effectiveness, safety, and whether or not they have confidence in the product as most important. The research showed that 50% of US consumers ranked “I know it works” as an important factor when choosing an OTC medication, while 4 of 10 (42%) cited “I know it is safe” and 35% responded that having confidence in the product were important. Least important to Americans are recognizable products (7%), easy-to take-products (8%), and choosing products because it is usually used (12%).

“With a highly competitive OTC marketplace in the United States, a product’s effectiveness is the driving factor behind consumer preference,” said David Parma, global head of Nielsen Consumer Research. “Safety clearly is top of mind, particularly now with the recent intervention by the FDA in prescription and OTC medication. OTC manufacturers need to do a really good job of communicating the safety of their products in light of this.”

Other key findings include:

  • When asked what would help them take care of their health and minor ailments, Americans indicated more advice or support from their doctors (44%), clearer information on and in the pack of medicine (36%), and more health education (33%).
  • Americans (49%) strongly agree or agree that more medicines should be available without a prescription from the doctor; 31% strongly disagree or disagree; and 31% do not have an opinion or do not know.

For other articles in this issue, see:

CDC Reports Dramatic Increase in Diabetes Cases

Pharmacists Held in High Regard, Survey Says

Personalized Medicine: Tailoring Drug Therapy to Genes

Avandia Comes Under Fire, GSK Responds