Association of over-the-counter pharmaceutical sales with influenza-like-illnesses to patient volume in an urgent care setting
We studied the association between OTC pharmaceutical sales and volume of patients with influenza-like-illnesses (ILI) at an urgent care center over one year. OTC pharmaceutical sales explain 36% of the variance in the patient volume, and each standard deviation increase is associated with 4.7 more patient visits to the urgent care center (p<0.0001). Cross-correlation function analysis demonstrated that OTC pharmaceutical sales are significantly associated with patient volume during non-flu season (p<0.0001), but only the sales of cough and cold (p<0.0001) and thermometer (p<0.0001) categories were significant during flu season with a lag of two and one days, respectively. Our study is the first study to demonstrate and measure the relationship between OTC pharmaceutical sales and urgent care center patient volume, and presents strong evidence that OTC sales predict urgent care center patient volume year round.