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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.

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  • LinkedIn Story Image
    5/2/2018 8:12:13 PM

    The stage is set for a regulatory change that will boost innovation by consumer healthcare products manufacturers, according to leaders of their association.

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    4/25/2018 1:27:33 PM

    OTC Monograph Reform Legislation Advances in the Senate: Yesterday, the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved S. 2315, the Over-the-Counter Drug Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act by a 22-1 vote. The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Bob Casey (D-PA), would reform and modernize the regulatory system that oversees the majority of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines – the OTC Monograph system. bit.ly/2qVM8ud  

  • LinkedIn Story Image
    4/24/2018 1:14:25 PM

    Just in time for National Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 28th check out #FDA’s newly revised drug disposal page! https://go.usa.gov/xQZnx 

CHPA Highlights

CHPA's 2017 Annual Report

View our 2017 Annual Report.