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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
    3/20/2018 5:48:40 PM

    “While the OTC Monograph system is a smart, balanced framework for regulating OTC medicines containing ingredients with a proven history of safe use and efficacy, it relies on notice and comment rulemaking which has become an increasingly slow and unresponsive administrative process,” Scott Melville, president and CEO for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, said.

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    3/14/2018 5:07:40 PM

    CHPA Elects Clarion’s Gary Downing as Chair at 2018 Annual Executive Conference Board of Directors Meeting. http://bit.ly/2tMWEIP

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    3/13/2018 2:32:52 PM

    The Ivan D. Combe Lifetime Achievement award is the highest honor given by the consumer healthcare industry. Congratulations to this year's winner John Hendrickson! http://bit.ly/2pb1zhg 

CHPA Highlights

CHPA's 2017 Annual Report

View our 2017 Annual Report.