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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
    3 May

    Did you miss one of our webinars? Explore all of our webinar archives on key topics in the OTC industry, now available at discounted prices. Visit webinars.chpa.org to learn more.

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    29 Apr

    Did you know DEA National Take-Back Day is Saturday, April 30? This event only comes around twice a year, so you won’t want to miss it. Find your local collection site, and learn about in-home disposal for the other 363 days – it’s free, safe, & eco-friendly. Learn more on the KnowYourOTCs website: bit.ly/dispose-safely

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    25 Apr

    Monday is a favorite day in the CHPA offices because fresh fruit is delivered for employees to enjoy all week. We strive to create an internal culture focused on health and wellness which is in alignment with the association mission of self-care.

CHPA Highlights

CHPA Legislative Action

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