Researchers have studied the sales of many types of OTC healthcare products during known outbreaks (Hogan et al., 2003, Campbell et al., 2004, Ohkusa et al., 2005, Magruder et al., 2004, Das et al., 2005,Welliver et al., 1979, Proctor et al., 1998, Stirling et al., 2001, Edge et al., 2004, Rodman et al., 1997, Beaudeau et al., 1999). These studies found strong and oftentimes early correlations between OTC sales and the epidemic curve for the outbreak. Two studies found that rises in sales of OTC healthcare products preceded detection of outbreaks by governmental public health (Proctor et al., 1998, Stirling et al., 2001). Other studies demonstrated that the increase in sales preceded the increase in traditional surveillance data used in public health surveillance. These studies collectively suggest that certain types of outbreaks can be detected earlier by monitoring of sales of OTC products than by current methods.
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