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What is an over-the-counter medicine?

What is an over-the-counter medicine?

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are sold directly to consumers without a prescription. There are approximately 800 OTC active ingredients available today that constitute more than 300,000 OTC medicines in the healthcare marketplace. They are sold in more than 750,000 retail outlets including pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores, mass merchandise retailers, etc. Like prescription drugs, OTC medicines are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are safe and effective when used as directed. The Drug Facts label instructs consumers on how to properly choose and use them. OTCs treat many common ailments including pain, fever, cough and cold, upset stomach, and allergies.

OTC medicines are the trusted first line of treatment for millions of consumers.


Who We Are

CHPA is the not-for-profit association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.

CHPA is one of the oldest trade associations in the United States and represents one of the most dynamic, cost-effective segments in the healthcare environment today.

Learn More

Connect With Us


Connect with CHPA and KnowYourOTCs.org via social media.

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    13 Oct

    CHPA employees contribute to our wellness culture by finding ways to stay active throughout the day, whether it is biking to/from work, exercising in our building gym, or taking a lunch time walk with colleagues to enjoy the beautiful weather and sights in Washington, DC!

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    7 Oct

    This week, CHPA's Scott Melville and Emily Skor presented at the "Advancing Self-Care and Responsible Self-Medication for a Healthier Future” conference held in Mexico City. They shared their insights on the benefits of Rx-to-OTC switch and the work of the CHPA Educational Foundation with attendees from around the world. Thank you to the Mexican nonprescription association (AFAMELA) and WSMI (World Self-Medication Industry) for putting on a great conference!

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    5 Oct

    A huge thank you to Kitty Loyd, our manager of task group programs, for the work she does in keeping our cross-functional task groups organized and informed throughout the year. This work keeps her busy every day, but especially in the fall when she helps coordinate our annual strategic planning meetings to prepare for the next calendar year.

CHPA Highlights

CHPA Legislative Action

Visit our Legislative Action Center to reinstate OTC medicines in tax-preferred accounts.