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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

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 135-year-old national trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to empowering consumer self-care by preserving and expanding choice and availability of consumer healthcare products.

Learn More

Connect With Us


Connect with CHPA and KnowYourOTCs.org via social media.

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    11/18/2016 4:06:28 PM

    Thank you again to our sponsors, attendees, and staff for making the inaugural CHPA Educational Foundation Gala a success this week! We hope to see you next year!

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    11/4/2016 2:38:58 PM

    CHPA staff gathered on Monday for a short Halloween celebration in the office. We were so happy to have some special family members join us for this event!

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    10/28/2016 6:38:17 PM

    This month President & CEO Scott Melville traveled to Japan to address the Asian-Pacific Self-Medication Industry (APSMI) general assembly on the importance of including OTC medicines in tax-preferred accounts. Scott serves on the Board of Directors of the World Self-Medication Industry (WSMI), an organization that supports the development of self-medication industry associations around the world.

CHPA Highlights

CHPA Legislative Action

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