This week, OTCs are in Action in Japan, where the government plans to reward self-medicating consumers with a tax deduction. Under current tax codes, Japanese consumers can deduct medical expenses over US$800 or so per year from taxable income, but OTC expenses are often not high enough to meet this threshold. A recently proposed tax incentive will require a minimum OTC expenditure of only about us$80 to qualify for the deduction – a benefit the government is hoping will nudge consumers with minor ailments away from expensive hospitals, and toward drugstores.
According to Nikkei Asian Review: “The health ministry expects more than 10mn households to qualify for the deduction. If the break changes patient behaviour, the resulting drop in government medical spending could outweigh the expected tens of billions of yen in lost tax revenue. Reining in social insurance expenditures is also crucial to achieving the government’s goal of a primary surplus by fiscal 2020.”
Nichols Hall’s DB6 database shows that the US$7bn Japanese OTC market has been ailing with sales declines for the past several years – encouraging people to put OTCs in Action for financial rewards will be therapeutic for consumers, manufacturers and government.