• Rx-to-OTC Switch

    CHPA fully supports the Rx-to-OTC switch process as a way to benefit consumers with more accessible and affordable self-care solutions.

    Rx-to-OTC switch refers to the transfer of proven prescription drugs (Rx) to nonprescription, OTC status. Rx-to-OTC switch is a data-driven, scientifically rigorous, and highly regulated process that allows consumers to have OTC access to a growing range of medicines. For a medicine to be granted OTC status, it must have a wide safety margin and be effective, and must bear understandable labeling to ensure proper use. More than 100 OTC ingredients, strengths, or indications are on the market today that were available only by prescription less than 40 years ago.

    Thanks to Rx-to-OTC switches, families can conveniently buy and use a wider range of antihistamines, pain relievers, heartburn reducers, nicotine replacement therapies, vaginal yeast infection treatments, and more without having to go to the doctor.

    • When nicotine replacement therapies went OTC, there was a 150 to 200 percent increase in their purchase and use in the first year after the switch. Increased access enabled tens of thousands of smokers to use these products to help quit smoking and live longer, healthier lives. That’s a $2 billion social benefit every year.
    • In the case of heartburn medicines, consumers saved an average of $174 per year in avoided prescription costs and office visits. This additional access also drove a $750 million savings to the healthcare system.
    • When vaginal yeast treatments were made available over-the-counter, studies found that women were as accurate as their doctors in recognizing the recurrence of vaginal yeast infection.


    Access to appropriate medicines without a prescription empowers consumers to take greater control over their self-care selections and provides tremendous public health benefits. Fueled in part by innovations in Rx-to-OTC switch, the U.S. market for OTC medicines is strong, providing consumers with accessible, affordable, and trusted healthcare options available 24/7 in a wide range of retail outlets, including pharmacies, supermarkets, and convenience stores.

    Pfizer Switch Graphic 2014