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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
    7/21/2016 7:32:44 PM

    Yesterday, CHPA staff gathered to celebrate Director of Marketing Communications Mary Leonard, who is expecting a baby boy with husband Joe in late August. A highlight of the party was guessing CHPA staff based on their baby pictures!

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    7/15/2016 7:16:51 PM

    We look forward honoring three companies for their commitment to responsible self-care at the CHPA Educational Foundation Gala on November 14. Walmart will receive the 2016 Distinguished Industry Partner of the Year and the American Association of Poison Control Centers has been chosen as the 2016 Community Partner of the Year. We are accepting nominations for the 2016 Industry Leadership Award for Advancing Responsible Self-Care until July 29. For more information, or to nominate a CHPA member company, go to: https://lnkd.in/e5D5Dsh

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    7/7/2016 5:41:06 PM

    We are proud to see KnowYourOTCs.org highlighted in a post by blogger Danielle Schaffer on the Today Show Parenting team website. The CHPA Education Foundation continues its commitment to providing consumers with the information and tools they need to safely use, store, and dispose of consumer healthcare products. Read Ms. Schaffer's post here: https://lnkd.in/eKxqZt9

CHPA Highlights

CHPA Legislative Action

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