An estimated 13 millionAmericans treating allergies with OTC meds would go withouttreatment if they had no nonprescription options to turn to.(Photo: Shutterstock)

The U.S. health care system should be very grateful for over-the-counter medications, according to anew study—because those meds save the system nearly $146billion—that's billion with a “b”—every year.

The Value of OTC Medicines to the U.S. Health CareSystem joint study, from IRI and the Consumer Health ProductsAssociation, finds that for every dollar spent on OTC medicines, anaverage of $7.20 is saved by the U.S. health care system. The studyarrived at those numbers by considering “direct and indirectsavings, driven by access to self-treatment and substitution of OTCproducts for prescription drugs,” the report says.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.