Background:The aim of this study was to assess how US gastroenterologists perceive and utilize over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and chronic constipation (CC).Methods:A total of 3,600 randomly selected American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) members were mailed a 27-question survey that assessed their perceptions and use of OTC and prescription medications. The χ 2 test and Student's t-test were utilized for bivariate analysis.Results:A total of 830 gastroenterologists (23.1%) completed the survey. For the typical acid reflux patient, 50% of gastroenterologists recommended OTC proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), 13% recommended an OTC histamine 2 receptor antagonist, whereas 33% recommended a prescription PPI. However, in the typical CC patient, 97% of gastroenterologists initially utilized OTC treatments. The vast majority of gastroenterologists felt that OTC brand name and store brand PPIs (76%) and polyethylene glycol (PEG 3350; 90%) were equally effective. Despite this, a minority "always" or "very often" directed their patients to purchase a store brand PPI (35%) or laxative (40%). In addition, gastroenterologists tended to underestimate the cost savings associated with store brand medicines and had limited knowledge regarding the regulation of store brands.Conclusions:Among US gastroenterologists, OTC medications now dominate primary therapy of GERD and CC. Despite feeling that name brand and store brand PPIs and laxatives are equally effective, the majority of gastroenterologists recommend brand name medicines and underestimate the cost savings associated with store brands. In this age of accountable care, greater efforts to help physicians and patients to better utilize their health-care dollars is warranted.
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