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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
    28 Jun

    We are thrilled to announce that Marcia Howard, senior director, regulatory and scientific affairs, has been selected as a 2016-2018 scholar in the ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Program. This program provides education, mentoring, and volunteering opportunities to chosen scholars from under-represented identity groups, with the goal of helping them advance in association management leadership. More information can be found here: https://lnkd.in/eY2HFAa

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    23 Jun

    We were proud to present our educational poster on safe medicine disposal earlier this week at the SerPIE One Health Conference in Huntsville, Ala.

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    20 Jun

    We had a great time at our annual summer event last Friday, practicing our problem solving skills in a local "escape the room" challenge. Thankfully we all made it out!

CHPA Highlights

CHPA Legislative Action

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