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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 137-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
    8/6/2018 3:22:19 PM

    “The momentum behind self-care is being driven by three key factors: changing demographics, economic pressures, and the role of technology — all of which affect the way consumers purchase self-care products." - CHPA President & CEO Scott Melville. https://t.co/gnB4DaPGcx

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    8/1/2018 8:13:38 PM

    The newest edition of the CHPA Your Health at Hand (YHAH) Book is now available online! Updates to the book, first published over a decade ago, were made with assistance from CHPA Regulatory & Scientific Affairs Committee (RSAC). Now in its third edition, the YHAH publication serves as a useful resource on active ingredients used in OTC medicines including product categories, relevant marketing category (NDA or OTC monograph), active ingredients contained in the medicines, and examples of brand name innovator products. https://bit.ly/2OChFfx

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    7/27/2018 5:40:16 PM

    Gary Downing is CEO of Clarion Brands, a national OTC company that makes and markets beloved consumer brands such as Certain Dri, Florajen and Lipo-Flavonoid. And he is the newly elected chairman of his trade association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. https://bit.ly/2K0elHR 

CHPA Highlights

CHPA's 2017 Annual Report

View our 2017 Annual Report.