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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
    1/9/2019 3:45:21 PM

    Join CHPA, AHP Association, CRN, NPA National & UNPA at the Dietary Supplements Regulatory Summit on May 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. Industry and agency experts will discuss key regulatory compliance issues facing the industry. Register here: https://lnkd.in/e-7nTEd

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    1/9/2019 12:28:37 AM

    CHPA applauds the introduction & passage of H.R. 269, which includes the Over-the-Counter Monograph Safety, Innovation, & Reform Act, legislation to modernize the regulatory system overseeing the vast majority of OTC medicines. https://bit.ly/2VARYQ8

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    1/8/2019 5:47:16 PM

    Save the Date for CHPA's 2019 Regulatory, Scientific & Quality Conference! Mark your calendar for CHPA's 2019 Regulatory, Scientific & Quality (RSQ) Conference, Tuesday, May 21 – Wednesday, May 22 in North Bethesda, Md. Hundreds of professionals from across the country will convene to hear about the latest in regulatory, scientific, legal, and product quality topics impacting the consumer healthcare products industry. https://www.chpa.org/RSQ/ More information and registration will be available in late January. We hope to see you there!

CHPA Highlights

CHPA's 2017 Annual Report

View our 2017 Annual Report.