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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
    11/5/2018 8:29:32 PM

    Candace Corlett of WSL Strategic successfully shared insights from the How America Shops® studies that make it clear which shopper attitudes & behaviors need to be prioritized in order to deliver what every consumer wants today at our Supply Chain conference.

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    11/1/2018 5:02:48 PM

    It’s not too late to register for CHPA's Supply Chain Conference! Don’t miss this inaugural event designed to provide significant education & networking opportunities for supply chain professionals working in the consumer healthcare industry! https://bit.ly/2yYbRGv

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    10/25/2018 4:02:00 PM

    Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation prohibiting the sale of OTC medicines containing the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM) to minors. Pennsylvania is now the 17th state to adopt these restrictions. https://bit.ly/2CGmFMX

CHPA Highlights

CHPA's 2017 Annual Report

View our 2017 Annual Report.