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Strategies for Reform of Regulations from a Consumer Welfare Perspective - focusing on how to improve the mechanism of the sale of OTC drugs -

Byung-Sung Baeck 1

1한국소비자원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Reform of regulations aims to ensure more freedom to economic activities in a country, and the ultimate goal is to protect its people (consumers) safe and reduce inconveniences. Whenever new presidents take office, efforts are being made to abandon regulations or raise the quality of regulations. Nevertheless, people are suffering seriously from difficulties buying things to meet their needs. One of the good examples is the fact that it is hard for people to buy OTC (non-prescription) drugs easily. To buy OTC drugs, consumers are required to visit a pharmacy. It is relatively easier in cities to find a pharmacy, but in rural areas, patients need to travel to downtown. From this point, this study focuses its discussion on the current situations of the sale of OTC drugs and ways to improve the situations, in the framework of reform of regulations in consideration of consumers’ welfare. Alleviation and reform of regulations are designed to exclude government interventions in economic activities by the private sector as possible. Generally speaking, regulations to protect consumers or take into consideration interest of consumers are mostly those imposing obligations on businesspeople. This study maintains that regulations be reduced for consumers’ welfare. In other words, viewing limiting the sale of OTC drugs to pharmacies as a regulation on market entry, the study suggests a policy direction that such market entry regulations be alleviated for the good of consumers. Limiting the sale of OTC drugs to pharmacies is likely to become a threat to the safety of consumers due to misuse or abuse of such drugs. Considering consumers’ safety, the study argues that pharmacies which sell OTC drugs should be increased in number for consumers’ convenience and to induce price competition. The study examines characteristics and safety of OTC drugs, reviews positions of stakeholders and situations in other countries. Specific policy directions including the scope of OTC drugs are suggested; and as a way of strengthening consumers’ safety, the study suggests a better marking system and active participation of consumers in side effect reporting system.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.